CLECKHEATON RUFC gained their first away league win of the season by defeating local rivals Morley 30-17 at Scatcherd Lane, with Dale Breakwell starring on debut.
Cleck had to make two late changes to the team as both second row forwards, Piercy and Malkinson, withdrew, with Matt Wood and Brad Marsden taking up the positions at lock, but it was Dale Breakwell, a recent addition to the club, who came in at outside half and controlled the game very well to lead the team to an important win.
In very murky conditions, Morley kicked off and had early possession, and after a penalty was awarded an attempt at goal from 35 metres sailed wide.
Cleck then opened the scoring with a fine try by Jack Seddon after good work by Jack Bickerdike and Breakwell and a short pass put him clear to touch down to the left of the posts. Breakwell added the extras and Cleck led 7-0 after 11 minutes.
Breakwell extended that lead to 10-0 with a simple penalty on 17 minutes after Morley hooker Jacob Percival was shown the yellow card for an offence at the maul.
Morley slowly worked their way into the game and applied pressure without troubling the scoreboard. However on 26 minutes, the home side’s number 10, Finlay White, dummied his way through the Cleckheaton defence to score to the right of the posts but missed the conversion.
The next 10 minutes ebbed and flowed, Morley having the upper hand in the scrum, driving Cleckheaton back several times. On 38 minutes, a long pass from Breakwell found Daniel Booth in space and the winger was hauled down a yard short of the line. From the maul that followed outside centre, Mike Swetman, joined in and crashed over near the corner flag. Breakwell booted over a magnificent conversion from the touchline to put Cleck 17-5 up at the break.
Early in the second half, after the Cleckheaton pack had been driven back in the scrum, prop Paul Turner was sent to the sin bin for incorrectly binding with his opposite number.
From the resulting penalty, Morley kicked for touch and secured the lineout, and a try followed shortly afterwards with Price crashing over from short range. The conversion was again missed, putting Cleckheaton’s lead at seven points. Breakwell’s kicking from hand was excellent throughout and was proving the difference between the teams.
On the hour mark came the try of the game for Cleck, as a swift move down the left flank and a kick ahead led to Booth winning the race for the touchdown. Breakwell kept up his 100% record with the bootand Cleckheaton now had a cushion at 24-10.
Both sides were incurring the wrath of the referee as penalties were being awarded regularly. Breakwell kicked his fifth goal of the afternoon after Morley had been caught offside to extend Cleckheaton’s lead with just over 10 minutes left.
James Wilson got the second yellow card for Cleckheaton for not retiring at a penalty and after the scrum option had been taken and Cleck were once again driven back, the referee awarded Morley a penalty try to make the score 17-27.
Cleckheaton had most of the ball in the second half, but the travelling faithful needing no reminding of their team’s demise the previous week, when three late tries threw away what looked to be a certain victory over Consett.
Morley continued to upset the referee and when Breakwell was about to attempt another kick at goal, a Morley player gave him a mouthful and was duly shown the yellow card. Breakwell added the goal to make the score 17-30 and all that remained in the final five minutes was to control the possession and the first away win would be secured.
Breakwell was the man of the match with a personal haul of 15 points from six successful kicks, while Jack Seddon worked tirelessly as did replacement Matthew Deighton.
This was an uplifting performance for Cleckheaton, although they remain in 11th place in the league ahead of a tough game against sixth-placed Percy Park, who will make the long trek from Tyneside to Moorend for a 3pm kick-off, after Cleckheaton’s now famous Christmas pre-match lunch.