Match Report: Huddersfield YMCA 13 - 43 Cleckheaton
Six of the Best
Cleckheaton put in a blistering last 15 minutes to outclass Huddersfield YMCA and claim the John Bower Trophy, the cup traditionally contested between these two near neighbours in memory of the former prop who represented both clubs. Cleckheaton were able to welcome back Lee Queeley and Andy Piper for this game but were without Ryan Piercy and Mikey Hayward and then on the day, also suffered the late withdrawal of flanker Josh Plunkett due to illness.
Cleckheaton were very quickly out of their blocks and hit the ground running from the kick off of this derby fixture. Within 2 minutes the visitors, playing towards the club house at Laund Hill, had a spell of controlled possession close to YM's line before Ben Thrower forced his way over. The home side, like the rain on the day, threatened to dampen Cleckheaton's afternoon but never really got going. Despite enjoying a lengthy period in Cleckheaton's 22, YM could not breakdown the stalwart defence of their opposition. Paul Turner and Luke Pearson put in some notable hits and the back row of Brad Marsden, Joey Carley and Jack Seddon disrupted Huddersfield at every opportunity. Cleckheaton worked their way up field with skipper, Matt Piper, creating a handful for YM's defence and earned a scrum just outside the home team's 22. Scrum half, Jack Bickerdike, picked up and showed the ball to Stand-off, Ronan Evans, before scooting through a narrow gap and sprinting to the line unchallenged. Mike Swetman converted from in front of the sticks.
Cleck player coach, Thiu Barnard, had to leave the pitch with a calf strain with 7 minutes left in the half and Matt Wood came om to take his place in the second row. YMCA, perhaps buoyed by the departure of Barnard, had the best of the remainder of the half and opted to get points on the board with the boot, as Cleckheaton conceded a few penalties. Gavin Stead landed two successful attempts and the teams changed ends with the game poised at 12-6 to Cleckheaton.
Tim Mobbs entered the fray at half time giving Andy Piper a well earned rest as the teams recommenced battle. Mike Swetman added a penalty goal to Cleck's tally 8 minutes from the restart, before jack Seddon skilfully stayed on his feet in the tackle and burrowed his way to the whitewash. Swetman converted. Cleckheaton seemed to have the upper hand but then YM had cause for new hope as Cleck were reduced to 14 men for 10 minutes, with the yellow carding of Paul Turner. The home team took advantage of their number differential and went in for their only try of the day, which when converted by Stead, reducing their arears to 22-13. The score line could have been closer still, as YM continued to press at Cleckhaton's edges, with wide balls designed to maximise the benefit of their extra man. Cleckheaton's sliding defence worked well to contain them with a spectacular tackle from winger Grant Fitzsimmons, bundling his opposite number into touch, and nearly into next week, being a stand-out moment. The same player, with around 15 minutes remaining in the game, went on to score Cleckheaton's bonus point try with an unstoppable run, which put the result beyond doubt and also secured Fitzsimmons the Man of the Match. Two more tries came Cleckheaton's way in the last 10 minutes with James Wilson going under the sticks when a training park backs move was perfectly executed, putting the fullback through a huge gap in YM's defence. Lee Queeley then marked his return to action with Cleckheaton's 6th try as he put on the after-burners to round YM's defence. Swetman converted all three of those tries for a final score of 43-13 to Cleckheaton.
An assured second period lifted Cleckheaton into the top half of the league table. Vice Captain Luke Pearson, looks back to his best after returning to action recently and Cleckheaton are playing with renewed confidence. This weekend Cleck host West Hartlepool and will wear their specially commissioned pink kit in support of Breast Cancer Research, after the game was postponed due to the Beast from the East. Please come along to Moorend and lend your support, 3pm kick off.