York 38 – 22 Cleckheaton
By Neil Gillan
Cleckheaton Test York but League Leaders Seal the Win in the End
Cleckheaton battled throughout a tough fixture at York, racking up a try scoring bonus point before the home side could claim theirs. However, a late brace from the league leaders gave them the win and the scoreboard a slightly lopsided look, in what was a close game.
Cleckheaton had a few changes from the previous week’s team with Joey Carley and Mike Swetman returning after injury and Ben Thrower also resuming at hooker. Mikey Hayward was unavailable and Martin Woodhead started in the left wing position. Thiu Barnard picked up a knock last week and now joins Tom Austin, Josh Plunkett and Brad Marsden on the out-of-contention back rowers list, but this allowed former Cleckheaton Junior, Matty Deighton, to make an impressive first team debut.
Cleckheaton controlled early possession and after a couple of forward drives, the ball was moved left and Martin Woodhead crossed for his 4th try in 5 games after just 7 minutes, The conversion drifted wide. York hit back following a scrum infringement, kicking the penalty to the corner and No 8 Goulding, touching down for the home team. Dawes put his side in front 7-5. Cleckheaton regained the lead when Matt Piper powered over from close range. Dearing added the conversion and the scoreboard read 7-12.
On 20 minutes after a poor kick out of defence from Cleck, York’s Davies and Singleton combined for the latter to score a fine try. Dawes converted. Not long afterwards Singleton crossed again for his 2nd on the back of some great handling by the home team. Dawes again converting to make the score 21-12. Cleckheaton defended manfully at times, pressurising themselves with a number of kicks that all found the bread basket of the opposition’s back three, who returned the ball with interest. The defensive line held out and Cleckheaton mounted their own spirited attacks, but the scoreboard was unmoved and remained 21-12 to York at the break.
Cleckheaton started the second half brightly and after lock, Josh Malkinson, was halted short of the line, scrum half Jack Bickerdike picked up for an opportunist try, Dearing’s kick hit the post but Cleckheaton were back in it at 21-17. There was a war of attrition developing, neither team giving any ground away in the cold and blustery conditions. York broke the deadlock with a converted penalty, advancing the score to 24-17.
Cleckheaton hit back five minutes later, Bickerdike creating space on the right flank and No 8 Jack Seddon powering over for Cleck’s bonus point try. Again the kick didn’t make it through the uprights but York’s lead was narrowed to just two points and Cleckheaton were winning the try scoring 4-3. With 10 minutes to play and the result hanging in the balance, York centre, Chris Peace, ran through some pretty ordinary defence from Cleckheaton and though caught short of the line, was able to pop the ball up to Goulding who crossed for his 2nd and York’s fourth try of the game. The match was halted soon after when York winger Gareth Singleton sustained a serious ankle injury and had to be removed from the field by ambulance. To allow the emergency services to attend to him with due consideration, the game was switched to an adjacent pitch for the last few minutes. Cleckheaton made initial headway and a losing bonus point seemed a real and deserved possibility. However a quick tap penalty deep in their own half resulted in York crossing again via scrum half Atkin and Dawes’s conversion brought the final score to 38-22.
Cleckheaton showed a lot if spirit and determination in the game but their line-out drills and kicking game wasn’t at its best. The team need a couple of wins to boost confidence and will hope to do that when Pocklington visit Moorend this weekend, kick off is at 2.15pm now the clocks have gone back.