Cleckheaton 27 – 13 Huddersfield YMCA
By Neil Gillan
Cleck Make it 10 out of 10 at home
by Geoff Akerman
Cleckheaton surged to victory and maintained their winning run at Moorend, where they haven’t lost since the beginning of February.
Cleckheaton turned on the style in the second half to see off local rivals Huddersfield YMCA after a strong defensive effort in the first forty minutes. Cleckheaton made five changes from last week's tough loss, captain Matt Piper and Tom Austin joined Josh Plunkett on the injured list, Paul Turner is suspended following his red card at Brid and Brad Marsden was unavailable due to work commitments. Niall Jackson came in at prop, player coach Thiu Barnard started at 6, Hayward moved in to centre and Mobbs and Thrower were on the bench with Evans.
YMCA kicked off playing with the wind and put the home side under pressure early on, successfully kicking a penalty goal after 4 minutes via the boot of Gavin Stead. The same player had another chance on 14 minutes but his kick came back off the post and when Cleckheaton knocked on trying to clear their line, the resulting scrum led to an opening try for YMCA wide on the right. the conversion was missed, and the score was 0-8.
Cleckheaton had very few opportunities in the opening 20 minutes and YMCA showed commendable ball retention and an almost negligible error rate. Only strong defence kept the visitors out, with Man of the Match, Jack Bickerdike, coming to Cleckheaton's rescue twice with excellent cover tackling. After weathering the storm, Cleckheaton made a great break down the middle via Mikey Hayward but he was tackled just short of the line. On the half hour mark, a Cleckheaton scrum rumbled forward and was well controlled by Jack Seddon who picked up from the back and scored Cleck’s opening try. Swetman was wide with the conversion and the scoreboard read 5-8. Stead missed another penalty at the end of the half when Barnard was penalised for a shoulder charge on YMCA lock Ed Black and got a yellow card and an injury which ruled him out of the rest of the game. The teams swapped ends with just three points in it.
On 49 minutes, Seddon peeled off a line out and powered over for his 2nd try, putting Cleck ahead for the first time in the match. Swetman added a towering conversion from the right touchline to double Cleckheaton’s lead to 12-8. The referee awarded YMCA a penalty on the half way line before play restarted, but Stead was short with that effort. Mobbs took the field for Cleckheaton, replacing Jackson who had a tremendous first half defensively, Crowther moved to flanker to replace Barnard after his yellow card had been served.
The big Cleckheaton pack was powering forward in the mauls and giving YMCA a torrid time. On 60 minutes, winger Martin Woodhead joined the push and was rewarded for his effort when he grounded the ball a short time later. Swetman added the conversion and then extended Cleck’s lead with a simple penalty on 71 minutes after YMCA had a player yellow carded for not releasing in the .
YMCA added a 2nd try when concerted attacks down the right wing left Cleckheaton short of defenders and a try was scored, the conversion was once again missed.
As the clock ticked on a sublime chip ahead by Swetman was gathered by Hayward who stepped inside the defence to score the bonus point try, the referee blew for full time and Cleckheaton had a deserved 27-13 victory.
No game this Saturday, but the team then take the long trip up the A1 for a mouth-watering clash with Morpeth on 13th October before hosting West Leeds at Moorend on 20th October