Match Report: Cleckheaton 40 - 19 Malton & Norton
Cleckheaton rack up their 150th point in the last 4 games
Cleckheaton extended their winning streak to four games in a row and also last Saturday, clocked up their 150th point over the same period to put Malton & Norton twelve league points behind them in North One East. Cleckheaton currently stand in 7th place, within touching distance of Bridlington, who have a points deduction looming over them for not fulfilling a fixture on 17th March.
Cleckheaton had to contend with a couple of late withdrawals from their squad with Lee Queeley and Ryan Piercy both failing late fitness tests. This promoted Grant Fitzsimmons from the bench to the starting line up and the winger, who is actually a back rower by trade, went on the win Cleckheaton’s Man of the Match. It also allowed the return, after a very long absence due to injury, of Tom Austin who filled in for Piercy in the second row and marked the occasion by scoring Cleckheaton’s first try, following a rare tip on at close range from Andy Piper. Mike Swetman converted to give Cleckheaton a 7-0 lead in the first 8 minutes.
Malton & Norton would prove dangerous with ball in hand, with a three quarter line that had the potential to break from anywhere on the field and this became self evident when a spilled ball by Cleck was collected by Malton who effectively went 65m for an equalising score. Rob Featherstone got the touchdown and Zweli Sodladla converted for the visitors. Cleckheaton got themselves back into attack mode, with the physicality of the pack proving difficult for Malt to contain and this effort was rewarded with a scrum 15 metres from the whitewash. Cleck scrum half, Jack Bickerdike, showed the ball to stand-off Ronan Evans before darting through the smallest of gaps for Cleckheaton’s second try. Swetman once again converted. Cleckheaton’s third and last try of the first half was the best so far, starting with Mikey Hayward, who has missed the last few games but showed no signs of rustiness, advancing the ball down Cleck’s left. The pack cleared and took up the attack with Josh Plunkett, Luke Pearson and Paul Turner amongst others, driving hard before Mike Swetman crashed over for an excellent try that must have been handled by more than half of the team. The conversion by Swetman brought the half time score to 21-7.
Malton were not yet beaten and started the second half the stronger, capitalising on a flurry of Cleckheaton infringements to make their way down field, with Tom Foan ultimately going in for an unconverted try that put the visitors back within 9 points. The prospect of Cleckheaton’s afternoon being spoiled hung in the air for a very short time before a penalty inside Malt’s 22 was quickly tapped by Bickerdike and a long pass by Matt Piper and a great, unselfish, feed from Hayward allowed Jack Seddon in at the corner. Swetman had certainly brought his kicking boots on the day and added the extras for Cleckheaton from the touchline. From the restart Cleckheaton took control with a solid catch from Pearson and a mazy run from Joey Carley. Malton cleared their lines temporarily but found themselves stretched as Cleckheaton attacked up the left flank before a long, looping, but perfectly weighted pass from Hayward switched play to the other wing where Grant Fitzsimmons was rewarded for a fine individual performance with a try. Swetman couldn’t nail this one from the touchline but not for lack of trying and the scoreboard read 33-12 to the home side with 20 minutes remaining.
Cleckheaton’s 6th and final try of the afternoon came from more great work by the forwards which was thwarted at the very last second by Malton & Norton. The referee determined that this was done in an illegal manner and awarded a penalty try. Conversions are no longer required in these instances and Cleck advanced their total by another 7 points. Malton & Norton kept trying to the end and claimed the consolation of the last try from Nick Rangiuira who was voted Malts Man of the Match.
There is no game for the 1st XV on Easter Saturday but the Kestrel's do have a game away at Pontefract. The 1st team will take a well earned rest before kicking on for the last three games of the season, starting with the only one that is away at bottom club Percy Park, who play in Tyneside at North Shields.