Cleckheaton 12 - 22 Driffield
Cleck go down to the league leaders
Driffield’s win over Cleckheaton coupled with Morpeth’s defeat at West Hartlepool propelled last weekend’s visitors to Moorend to the top of the North 1 East league table at the end of Saturday afternoon. Cleckheaton went into the game missing 3 or 4 of its experienced players but welcomed Lee Queeley back into the outside centre position, where he made an instant impact putting in the ‘shot of the day’, with a ferocious early tackle to thwart a Driffield attack. Ryan Piercy also made his return, initially to the bench, after a back injury that has kept him out for a month.
Despite Cleckheaton’s defensive efforts in the opening 10 minutes, Driffield could not be kept at bay altogether and won a penalty under the sticks, which they converted into 3 points. The visitors from the East Yorkshire Wolds, had the bit between their teeth and continued to press Cleckheaton’s line. The home team’s defence remained solid but the pressure led to a 5m scrum and after a number of phases, Driffield went in for their first try. Cleckheaton tried to work their way into the match and had a good spell of pressure but could not convert this into points. At the break Driffield led 10 – 0.
Cleckheaton began the 2nd half reinvigorated and took the game to Driffield in a mirror image of the start of the first period. Likewise the defence held out for 10 minutes but eventually enterprising play in the back line put James Wilson in for an excellent try for Cleck. The conversion was added by Mike Swetman and the home team were right back in it. Driffield looked to mount a response but a handling error thwarted their attempt and Cleckheaton cleared their lines. The resulting line out caught Cleckheaton completely off-guard and the Driffield catcher was able to run 20m up field without a hand on him, eventually culminating in a second, this time unconverted, try for the visitors to bring the score to 15-7.
Cleckheaton’s heads did not go down and the forwards worked hard to establish good field position, with Jack Seddon and Man of the Match, Josh Plunkett, eager for work. It was the backs once again though that would make the breakthrough. A dancing run from Mikey Hayward created an initial break and Ronan Evans then promoted the ball further with good support work, before off-loading back to Hayward who just made it to the line despite the attention of the Driff fullback. The conversion was missed but the deficit narrowed to 15-12.
Cleckheaton looked to be in the ascendancy and Driffield’s play became nervy as thoughts no doubt went back to Cleckehaton’s last minute win in the reverse fixture last September. Driffield got possession in Cleckheaton’s 22, but the home side turned the ball over and prepared to clear upfield. This time rather than kicking ahead, Cleck’s back line decided to run the ball. A decent option, designed to catch Driffield’s defence off guard. It could have worked as the visitors defensive line was showing a dog leg, unfortunately though the pass to turn this in to an advantage, was too close to the Driff centre and he intercepted and ran the ball in from 20m out. The conversion was also added. With time against the home team, there was no further score in the game and at the end it finished Cleckheaton 12-22 Driffield.
A decent performance from Cleckheaton in the end against the now league leaders but still no points from the game. Another difficult fixture away at West Leeds awaits this Saturday and the team will have to work hard once again if they are to come away with a victory.