By Geoff Akerman
Cleckheaton bounced back with a deserved victory at a sun drenched Moorend. There were a couple of late changes to the published team, skipper Matt Piper was a late withdrawal and was replaced by James Wilson on the right wing with Mikey Hayward starting at inside centre, whilst Brad Marsden was awarded the Captaincy. Niall Jackson returned in the front row, with Archie Rika-Rayne , Cain Crotty and Charlie McGovern on the bench.
Cleckheaton opened the scoring on 3 minutes after good driving by the pack saw the ball get to Dale Breakwell, who kicked cross field where Wilson was able to gather and make progress. YMCA's defence were committed to the ruck and the ball was spun left for Jack Seddon to stroll over the line for a first try this season by a Cleckheaton forward. Breakwell added the goal to make it 7-0.
Cleckheaton were 10 points up after 10 mins when Breakwell slotted a 25 metre goal after YMCA were guilty of not releasing in a tackle.
YMCA hit back after winning a penalty and kicking to the corner, they secured possession at the line out and went through the phases but stout defence held the ball up over the line. From the 5 metre scrum that followed Sean Barrett crossed for a try, which was converted by Gavin Stead. Cleckheaton scored a 2nd try when progress was made by Brad Marsden, Joey Carley and Tom Austin before quick hands by Dale Breakwell and a lovely pass from Olly Depledge put Seddon in for his 2nd try of the game on 27 minutes. The kick was wide but the score had advanced to 15-7.
Cleckheaton were putting themselves under pressure by trying to force an extra pass when it may have been better to take the tackle amd go through the phases again, on 32 minutes Seddon was penalised for an offence at the ruck and Stead kicked a 35 metre penalty to take the score to 15-10. Archie Rika-Rayne entered as replacement for Ben Thrower. With 2 minutes to go in the half YMCA took the lead when outside half Alex Bull powered through some ragged tackling to score next to the posts. Stead added the goal and YM led 15-17 at half time.
Cleckheaton had a couple of opportunities to regain the lead early in the second half, Breakwell narrowly missed a 45 metre penalty and also tried an outrageous drop goal from a similar distance that very nearly made it. The Moorenders also knocked on in a promising position deep inside the YM 22. However Cleck's front row of Andy Piper, Rika-Rayne and Jackson took the ball against the head and Depledge put Wilson in for an unconverted try. Stead added another penalty for a hand in the ruck offence to level the scores at 20 a-piece and the last 20 minutes was set to be a thriller.
YMCA got an advantage when Cleck's fullback, Jack Marshall, was adjudged to have illegally slowed the ball down as YM pressed Cleck's line. He was dispatched to the sin bin for 10 minutes but the hard graft delivered by strength and conditioning coach, Lee Queeley in pre-season, now came into its own and a fitter looking Cleckheaton would not be breached despite the disparity in numbers. A monstrous kick out of defence by Breakwell had YMCA scrambling to retrieve the ball, they got penalised for not releasing and with the scores level YM were expecting the routine kick at goal. Dale Breakwell had other ideas, took a quick tap and after exchanging passes with brother Tom, went in for an opportunist try, which also earned Cleck a bonus point. He added the goal to make it 27-20. A few minutes later, Jack Seddon was put in a clear overlap with 10 metres to go to complete his hat trick ( and a jug for his team) but he had a dose of white line fever and threw the ball into the assembled crowd enjoying the sunshine!
Cleckheaton's fifth and last try came on the back of good work from Carley, who made some good yards down the left and handed on to Depledge, who was tackled inches short of the line. The ball was quickly recycled and Danny Booth glided in-field past the defence for a well finished try. YM tried to get some consolation points as the game came to an end but strong defence, with Ryan Piercy putting in a few of his classic slam-down tackles, meant their efforts came to nought.
Mikey Hayward put in a good performance at inside centre having stepped up just an hour before the start of the game but Cleckheaton's Man of the Match and the winner of this week's Sapper Support Trophy and the award winning B&M Collins stand pie was Olly Depledge. Gavin Stead claimed the B&M Collins pie for the visiting team Man of the Match with another classy game.
Next week, it will be a first league encounter at Moortown , both teams have identical records recording 2 wins and 1 defeat this season, kick off is at 3.00pm.