Match Report: Driffield 36 – 38 Cleckheaton
Cleckheaton Grab Injury Time Victory
It was a thriller in the East Yorkshire Wolds as Cleckheaton won the game with a last gasp, injury time try. This score from skipper, Matt Piper, together with steely composure from Man of the Match, Mike Swetman, to slot a difficult conversion, broke the hearts of a plucky Driffield team. A total of 74 points were scored in the game, so not one for the defensive manual as the lead to and fro’d throughout the 80 minutes but Cleckheaton showed a self belief, which is rapidly becoming a feature of this season as they responded with plenty of purpose to a Driffield try on the 75th minute
Leading up to the game coach, Thiu Barnard, had to ring the changes following a number of injuries during Cleck’s win over Bridlington. Mikey Hayward, Alex Garden and Lewis Beasty all had knocks and were unable to play and to add to the woes, James Crowther was unavailable too. Tom Austin, Niall Jackson, Craig Blackburn and debutant Josh Clough were brought in to replace them.
Cleckheaton started unusually brightly and within 5 minutes were awarded a penalty in a central location inside Driffield’s 22. Jack Seddon realising the defensive line were all off-side, quickly tapped the ball to himself and by the time the home side could react, he was over the whitewash. Swetman kicked the conversion to give Cleckheaton an early lead. Driffield levelled the scores 10 minutes later when Cleckheaton lost a scrum against the head and Gray went over. Ben Thrower was then sin-binned for a repeat offence and Driffield used their extra man advantage to go into a 7 point lead. Mike Swetman reduced the deficit to14-10 with a well struck penalty goal. Cleckheaton were attacking the Driff line but turned the ball over and the Woldsmen’s winger, Dinsdale, collected a short pass on the blind side and raced up the touchline, catching Cleckhetaon’s fullback flat-footed for a long range and well taken try. The conversion was missed but minutes from the break Driffield were 9 points in front. As the game swung into injury time, a high tackle from the home team saw them reduced to 14 men and the ball was propelled wide by scrum half James Wilson, eventually ending up out on the wing with Brad Marsden, who forced his way over in the corner. Swetman, immaculate with the boot all day, once again obliged. At the interval the scores were close at 19-17.
Cleckheaton restarted after the break raring to go and within a couple of minutes scored a champagne try. Seddon picked up from the back of a ruck and chipped the ball a few feet over the defence, before catching it after one perfect bounce, and racing in under the sticks to give Cleckheaton the lead. The same player, who was Driffield’s choice for Cleck’s Man of the Match, started the next score when he broke from within his own 22 before off-loading to Swetman who sucked in the defence around the half way line and then off loaded to the ever supporting Ronan Evans. The stand-off could not be caught on his way to a long range score. Cleck were now well in control at 31-19. Or so it seemed! Driffield were far from done and with determination fought their way upfield before scoring a try to put them back it. They then scored another to level the match once more. By now it could have been anyone’s game. Cleckheaton held the ascendency in the first part of the second half but Driffield’s tails were now well and truly up. It looked like the points were staying in East Yorkshire when a spilled ball led to Driffield’s 6th try of the day and the scoreboard read 36-31 with 2 minutes to play.
Cleckheaton still believed though and when Driffield conceded a penalty on the half way line with just seconds left and Swetman put the ball in touch just a few metres from Driffield’s line, both sets of supporters had their hearts in their mouths. After a great set piece and drive by the entire pack, Matt Piper found a narrow gap up the blind touchline. He ran in field a little to make the conversion angle a little narrower but with the scores level at 36-36, it would still take an excellent kick to secure Cleckheaton the 5 league points. Up stepped Swetman and calmly slotted the ball through the uprights to the great delight of one team and its supporters and the great despair of the other set. The pain was more acute for Driffield as they had lost in a similar, last minute, fashion the week before as well.
An excellent win for Cleckheaton and one that relied on a great kicking to beat Driffield, despite them scoring 6 tries to Cleckheaton’s 5. Cleckheaton need to take the momentum of their 3 match winning run into this weekend’s game at home to West Leeds.