Match Report: Malton & Norton 24 – 41 Cleckheaton
Cleckheaton On The Rise
(Thanks to Daivd Harrison for the photographs)
The break from league action on the Saturday prior to this fixture, did Cleckheaton no harm at all, as they built on their assured performance against Huddersfield YMCA with a decisive victory over Malton & Norton. The last time these sides played each other was just over three and half years ago in April 2014, the week after Cleckheaton had been crowned as champions of North 1 East and earned promotion to National League 3. Cleckheaton went on to win that game 63 - 21 and put in a performance of similar calibre last weekend, scoring 6 tries despite being reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes of each half.
Mike Swetman, who celebrated his 37th birthday the day after the fixture, opened the scoring with a penalty goal. The same experienced boot dabbed a delicate kick through for winger Pat Foulstone to chase after good work from the forwards. Foulstone’s try remained unconverted but Cleckheaton had propelled themselves into an 8-0 lead. The visitors extended their advantage following another penalty that this time was kicked to the corner. Ben Thrower was accurate with his throw in and Ryan Piercy, was propelled upwards by Paul Turner and Jack Seddon to claim the ball cleanly and set up the catch and drive. Brad Marsden took control at the back of the maul and dived to the floor over the whitewash. Cleckheaton had to weather a minor storm as Jack Bickerdike was sent for 10 minutes in the bin under the RFU’s unintentional high-tackle rule. However the West Yorkshire men’s defence stayed solid and they managed to go further ahead. Foulstone went in for his second try after a kick up field was chased my centre Liam Darville and despite getting flattened by a Malton defender, he managed to hack the ball on for Foulsotone to gather for an excellent try. Swetman added the conversion from 10m in from the touchline. Malton hit back when a planned backs moved created a gap in Cleck’s defence and Zwell Sodladla glided through to open the scoring for his team. At the break Cleckheaton held the upper hand at 20-5.
Malton gave themselves a glimmer of hope with an early converted try in the second half via No.8, Coe, but any thoughts of a turnaround were quickly dispelled as Cleckheaton introduced two substitutes, 5 minutes apart, who both scored with their very first touch of the game. James Crowther was first to enter the fray and went in for Cleckheaton’s bonus point try after picking up a pass over 20 metres out, on the back of a similar length run from Marsden. Swetman converted. A short time later Ronan Evans stepped from the bench and with his first touch, was the beneficiary of a pass from Mikey Hayward, who had stepped inside one defender after gathering a superbly weighted cross-field kick from Swetman. Swetman again converted. Hayward then turned from try provider to try scorer, going in for Cleck’s 6th of the afternoon with a dance down the left touchline which could not be contained by Malton’s defence.
Cleckheaton’s lead had extended to 41-12 and the momentum was all with the visitors. However Mike Swetman was dispatched to the sin bin on 65 minutes and Cleckheaton were immediately placed on the back foot as Malton took advantage of their additional numbers and Foan went in for their 3rd try, converted by Bulmers. With time almost up, Malton’s desire to get something out of the game was rewarded with a 4th and bonus point try. Some small consolation for the home team, who were well beaten on the day by a Cleckheaton side who are starting to look more and more polished as the season moves into December.
This weekend Cleckheaton welcome Newcastle side, Percy Park to Moorend. The club was formed by J Stanley Todd in 1872, who happened to live at No. 60 Percy Park. The two clubs last met in league action in March 2012 when the Tyneside men took the spoils 45-12.