Match Report: Cleckheaton 5 - 9 Dinnington
Moorenders Concede No Tries But Lose Low Scoring Contest.
Cleckheaton racked up their 5th straight defeat of the New Year, as an anticipated difficult January extended into early February, with a low scoring defeat by the improving Dinnington. In the previous couple of weeks Cleckheaton had faced table toppers Driffield and the team with the fewest losses, Alnwick. Cleck lost to both but despite the score lines, there was very little between the teams on the day. The general feeling in the camp was that when faced with more lowly opposition, such as bottom three club Dinnington, the previous performances would turn narrow defeats into well earned victories. This did not turn out to be the case last Saturday and without taking anything away from the South Yorkshire club, who battled manfully on an extremely wet and boggy pitch, Cleckheaton only had their lack of discipline to blame. Cleck received 2 yellow cards in the game, which meant they played a quarter of the fixture with only 14 men. Cleckheaton have been awarded 4 yellows in the last 3 games and the penalty count makes for poor reading. In every case the opposition have capitalised on these advantages, with West Leeds scoring 22 points and Alnwick scoring 12, whilst the sin bin was occupied by their opposition. Dinnington meanwhile, collected all their points from Cleckheaton's foul play. One of the real problems that the players need to address urgently is accepting that the fault is theirs. Too often denial creeps in and circumstances or team mates will be blamed, or the referee deemed harsh. The players need to accept the responsibility for making decisions which lead to penalties being conceded, only then will they stop doing it. If the discipline stats had been the other way around in the last five games, the results could have been very different.
This match was always likely to be low scoring due to the very wet conditions in the days running up to the game. Little purchase could be found under foot for either fast flowing rugby or even for driving the ball in the maul. Cleckheaton were pleased to have former player and coach Craig West and his wife Julie as guests at the pre-match lunch. The couple's son Johnny now plays stand-off for Dinnington, his home town club, and it was his side that enjoyed the lion's share of possession and territory in the opening 20 minutes. Cleckheaton's defence was top drawer though and the South Yorkshire men could not penetrate it. On one of Cleck's first foray's into their opposition's 22, a try seemed imminent when, with penalty advantage, Mike Swetman noticed Mikey Hayward in acres of space on the stand-side of the pitch. A perfectly weighted cross-field kick would have seen a simple try but unfortunately the ball was struck poorly and rather than dropping into the hands of the wingman, went flying over the dead ball line and booked itself in for a mocha-choco-latté at the adjoining Starbucks Drive-Thru. At half time the score remained 0-0.
The second half started in very positive fashion for Cleckheaton and before long a penalty close to Dinnington's line, and good line-out drills, led to a rolling maul which Man of the Match, Thiu Barnard, got over the whitewash. Dinnington hit back when Andy Piper was sin-binned for not rolling away and the successful kick brought the score to 5-3. Cleckheaton continued to press with Hayward trying his hardest to get purchase on the boggy turf and Seddon, Plunkett, Carly and Piercy all having half breaks. Dinnington were awarded another kick in front of goal to put themselves into a 1 point lead and then, a few minutes later, Ronan Evans was binned on behalf of the team, for committing another in a line of infringements. With time drawing to a close Dinnington kicked a third penalty goal and then ran down the clock to claim the four points.
In a twist of fate, the losing bonus point that Cleckheaton got from the game, actually elevated them above Huddersfield YMCA in the table, as other teams immediately below them lost. This week the team travel up the A1 again to high flying Morpeth, where the penalty count will be as important as the score line. If Cleck can trail Morpeth in that unwanted statistical column, then the points may just come back to West Yorkshire.