By Geoff Akerman
Cleckheaton RUFC opened their new season in North One East with a narrow victory over last season’s runners up, Scarborough.
The visitors kicked off playing into the wind and were soon on the back foot, when smart work by Jack Seddon sent him on a galloping run up the touchline. Scarborough infringed at the breakdown and Dale Breakwell slotted a 20 metre penalty. He extended the lead to 6-0 with another 35 metre penalty goal 5 minutes later. Scarborough got their first try on 13 minutes when hooker Smyth forced his way over from close range, the conversion was added and the visitors had the lead at 7-6.
Cleckheaton played some breath-taking rugby in the next 20 minutes, Mike Hayward crossed for a try from a pinpoint kick from Dale Breakwell, who also converted. Six minutes later Matt Piper ploughed across the line after good progress by Ryan Piercy and Dale Breakwell converted again to bring the score to 20-7. From the restart Hayward crossed for his 2nd try after a kick ahead was gathered by Olly Depledge who gave the scoring pass. Breakwell maintained his perfect record with the boot to improve Cleck’s lead to 27-7. In almost identical fashion but this time with the ball in hand Hayward turned provider giving the final pass to full back Jack Marshall, who marked his league debut for the club with a fine try. Breakwell missed the kick and at half time Cleckheaton had secured a bonus point leaving Scarborough shell shocked and 32-7 in arrears.
Scarborough started their fight back on 46 minutes with a close range effort by flanker Chris Purdy, which was unconverted. A series of penalties in quick succession saw referee Mr Downham issue a stern lecture to Cleck’s Captain, Matt Piper. From the set piece re-start prop forward Cutino got over the line for Scarborough to reduce their arrears to 32-17. With a quarter of the match remaining, the visitors went in for their bonus point try as hooker Smyth crossed for his 2nd of the game. The kick was missed once again but there were now just 10 points in it at 32-22. Cleckheaton finally got some possession deep in Scarborough territory but the ball was turned over and the chance was lost. With 5 minutes plus injury time remaining, Scarborough attempted a 35 metre penalty after Seddon was sin binned but that sailed to the right of the posts. Scarborough added a 5th try with the last play of the game that completed Smyth's hat trick and earned the visitors a losing bonus point.
This was a game of two halves with Cleckheaton dominating the first half and then playing with lack of patience in the second, which saw their share of time in possession drop dramatically. Fair play to Scarborough who never gave up hope and earned themselves 2 league points despite their loss. The B&M Collins award winning pies for Men of the Match went to Billy Parker of Scarborough and Dale Breakwell of Cleckheaton, who also picked up the Sapper Support Cleck M.o.M trophy.
Next week Cleckheaton make the long trip to North Shields to renew rivalry with Percy Park, who lost their opening game 25-14 at Bradford Bingley. Park will no doubt be looking to get back to winning ways at home, whilst Cleck will be looking to build on their outstanding 1st half performance to bring the points back to West Yorkshire. Due to a function this game will kick off at 2pm for those who are making the journey up to Tyneside.