Cleckheaton 19 – 29 Scarborough
By Neil Gillan
Cleckheaton lose out to league leaders by Geoff Akerman
Cleckheaton welcomed Scarborough to Moorend for a league game on Saturday for the first time in two decades. The home side were hoping to continue their winning run and to overturn a narrow defeat at Silver Royd earlier in the season.
Cleckheaton had two changes to the starting line up from the last game before Christmas, Joey Carley returning in place of player coach Thiu Barnard, Brad Marsden returning to lock in place of Matt Wood, who with Josh Clough replaced Ben Etchells and Will Denham on the bench.
Cleckheaton made a bright start and after 3 minutes a Scarborough player gave his opinion to referee Andy Baker and was duly penalised. Dale Breakwell kicked the goal from 35 metres to give Cleck a 3-0 lead. The lead didn't last long as Jack Bickerdike and Jack Seddon made a mess of a pick up from a scrum and with quick hands to the right, Scarborough full back, Perrett, strolled across to score a try which was unconverted but put his side in front 5-3. Breakwell restored the lead with another penalty on 23 minutes after the visitors were caught offside.
On 32 minutes Cleck won a penalty in their own 22 but a bit of backchat saw the decision reversed and again with excellent hands and line speed down the blind side, Scarborough No.8 Ben Martin went into a gap for a try. The conversion was missed again and the score moved on to 6-10. A fine cross kick by Breakwell put winger Danny Booth into space but he slipped trying to cut inside his man and the chance was lost. Mike Swetman made some telling breaks as half time approached but the Scarborough defence was able to scramble and snuff out the threat. Cleckheaton also didn't help themselves by needlessly kicking away possession on several occasions. Scarborough flanker Govier was sent to the sin bin with 39 minutes played. At half time the score remained 6-10.
The visitors were reduced to 13 men after another sin bin early in the second half and Cleckheaton really should have capitalised. Scarborough's defence was top drawer but Cleckheaton helped them by not playing with enough patience. On 50 minutes, with Cleck applying pressure on the Scarborough line, Josh Plunkett could not keep hold of a pass that was rocketed towards him and the ball came loose in a crunching tackle, the kick ahead went to hand and Perret crossed again for a long range try, converted by Young. The visitors' lead was now 6-17. Cleck had a lot of possession in good field position but they couldn't get the scoreboard moving. On 68 minutes, Scarborough got their bonus point try after another length of the field effort by scrum half, Wakenham.
Coach Thiu Barnard rang the changes and brought Ben Dearing, Matt Wood and Josh Clough into play, with James Wilson switching to scrum half in place of Bickerdike. Breakwell got his 3rd penalty goal of the game with 10 minutes remaining and some quick thinking by Cleckheaton Man of the Match, Swetman, saw him put Mike Hayward into to space to cross on the left for his 10th try of the season on 76 minutes, a bonus point was still possible. Scarborough ended that idea with a 5th try of the game by Govier after a counter attack from deep went awry, the ball was lost and the flanker scored under the posts converted by Young. There was still time left for Cleckheaton to add another score and Booth crossed for his 6th try since joining the club, the conversion from the touchline went wide. The score was now 19-29 and any score in the dying minutes from Cleck would put them into losing bonus point territory, unfortunately time wasn't on Cleckheaton side and the referee blew the final whistle. Scarborough deserved the victory on the day, showing their league topping credentials, but Cleckheaton battled all the way and had a resurgent last 10 minutes. With better ball retention in the red zone the result may have been very different. Next week, Cleckheaton are at home again to visitors from the East Coast in the form of Bridlington, kick off is at 2.15pm.