Cleckheaton preserved their tenure in North One East with a determined 6 try performance at a windswept Moorend. Cleck made two changes to the previous week’s side with Ollie Depledge returning after injury and Brad Marsden resuming at flanker.
Cleckheaton stated their intent from the kick off and opened the scoring on 4 minutes after a catch and drive at a line out was moved some 20 metres, with Andy Piper and Paul Turner providing the drive along with Ryan Piercy and Damian Pearson. Hooker, Ben Thrower, controlled the ball at the back and touched down. Dale Breakwell added the goal to give Cleck a 7-0 lead. The home side looked to be going in again, but a Malton hand blocked the pass leading to a Cleckheaton scrum 5 metres out. No.8 Jack Seddon and scrum half, Jack Bickerdike, combined for Matt Piper to cross for his 8th try of the season, Breakwell added another goal for a 14-0 lead after just 8 minutes. Malton bounced back with a try of their own after a tap penalty and some indifferent tackling saw full back, Bell, cross under the posts. Inman converted to make the score 14-7. Marsden, Joey Carley and Seddon were prominent in securing any loose ball for Cleckheaton and when Matt Piper and Breakwell put centre Ollie Depledge into space, he powered across the line for an unconverted try. Moments later as Breakwell tried to clear to touch, his kick was charged down and Malton centre, Foan, touched down for a converted try. Breakwell then added 2 routine penalty goals to steady Cleck nerves, extending the lead to 25-14. Cleck were monopolising possession and Mikey Hayward had a couple of trademark mazy runs, but a swift break out of defence by Malton saw Foan make significant yardage before offloading to No 8 Sam Triffit, who went in for another converted try. Breakwell was able to restore some of the cushion with a third penalty goal, taking the score to 28-21 at half time.
The game was poised and Cleckheaton were far from safe, Niall Jackson and Tom Austin were introduced to the fray and shortly the restart, Breakwell popped a short pass to skipper Matt Piper who drove over for his 2nd try of the game taking 3 defenders with him. The conversion put Cleckheaton 14 points ahead and it wasn’t long before this was extended, a catch and drive was set up before the backs added a bit of momentum and Breakwell burrowed his way over for his first try for the club, avoiding the legendary ‘naked lap’ in the final game. He also converted his score to give Cleck some breathing space at 42-21. Mike Swetman was brought on from the bench and soon after Cleck scored arguably the best try of the game and certainly the best celebration of the season, when Breakwell floated a cross field kick to the right wing. Danny Booth leapt above the defence and gathered the ball on the full, landing in the in-goal area and proceeding gleefully underneath the sticks, in a manner the would definitely be approved by the Ministry of Silly Walks, bringing great delight to the home crowd.
Malton got a bonus point try on 71 minutes by way of consolation but Cleckheaton were deserved winners with a final score of 49-26. Matt Piper and Ben Thrower shared Cleckheaton's Man of the Match, with Head Coach Thiu Barnard also having to toast his South African IronMan achievement. B&M Collins Butchers presented their award winning pies, along with some extra 'pies for tries' to Matt Piper making him happy and very popular.
This has been a rollercoaster season for Cleckheaton climbing high to do the double over Bradford & Bingley and Morley, whilst crashing down to all 3 of the relegated teams. ‘If Only’s’ are fantasy fodder but nevertheless, if Cleck had been able to win their games over the bottom 3 sides, a number of which were lost in the final minutes, then they would have finished in the top 5!
This was the last game of the season and now we look forward to the next one, with warm-up games pencilled in for August. Watch this space for finalised details and the new season's fixture list when they are available.