Match Report: West Leeds 43 – 17 Cleckheaton
Cleckheaton lose it in first 20 minutes
Cleckheaton played West Leeds in league competition for the first time in a generation as the Wortley based team have made their way up the Yorkshire Divisions into North 1 East, gaining two promotions in two years as a product of a set of very good colts players becoming equally adept in the open age environment. Cleckheaton welcomed back Joey Carley to the fold after he has spent the first half of the season at Huddersfield and the back rower/hooker had several enterprising jaunts during the 80 minutes.
The game, which pundits expected to be close before kick off, was effectively over in the first 20 minutes. The match had barely got underway when Cleckheaton’s Lee Queeley was sin-binned for a tackle across the chest which ended up around the neck and the centre was sent to the bin under the new high tackle rules. West Leeds took the 3 points on offer via the boot of Dale Breakwell and over the next 10 or 12 minutes ran in another 3 tries, through Carpenter, Booth and Smith. Cleckheaton were restored to full complement but were looking at a deficit of 22-0 from which they were never able to recover. The remainder of the game saw each side score 3 tries a piece, with West Leeds going in for another two tries, giving them a mountainous 36-0 lead, before Cleckheaton got on the board. Steve Anderson and former Leeds Rhinos player, Mark Calderwood, doing the honours for Wests and Breakwell adding both conversions. A penalty 5 minutes from the end of the first half and a well executed line-out drill, gave Cleckheaton their first moments of pressure during the entire game and after several charges forward, Ryan Piercy muscled his way over for the visitors. Bailey Smith added the extras and at the break Cleckheaton trailed 36-7.
Cleckheaton had been bossed in the first half and the territorial statistics would show an overwhelming graphic in favour of Leeds. Cleckheaton were potentially facing a huge defeat and needed to dig deep and to ensure that West Leeds could be better contained in the second period. The Spen Valley men did put in a much improved second 40 minutes and scored two tries to one but it was Wests that scored first when a cross-field kick from Breakwell went over the head of Cleck’s defence, took a bizarre, remote controlled bounce and landed perfectly in the bread basket of Danny Booth who went in for his second and Leeds’ 6th try of the day. Cleckheaton’s forwards upped their game and drove over Leeds’ line with Brad Marsden getting the ball down and Ronan Evans converting. For the last 10 minutes of the match the possession and territory were all Cleckheaton’s and there was faint hope of a try scoring bonus point, which inspired the Cleck supporters to continue to shout vigorously for their team, even though the result was never in question. The visitors went close a couple of times before Lee Queeley eventually went in for Cleck’s 3rd try. It was surely too late in the game for another one as the referee signalled that the restart was effectively the last play. Cleckheaton caught the ball well and played a few phases of controlled rugby, where maintaining possession was paramount as the game entered overtime. To sum up Cleck’s afternoon in a couple of seconds, the ball was then speculatively kicked up field, as the thought of the inch by inch progress through raw hard work, became too much. West Leeds turned over possession and the game ended with West Leeds taking the spoils 43-17.
Next week Cleckheaton hit the A1 for the first of 3 trips in a month to teams that are based to the North of Newcastle, starting with Alnwick. The side needs to get its travelling boots on, up the doggedness, build some confidence and make sure the three trips to Northumbria are not for naught.