CLECKHEATON ensured their unbeaten home record would be carried into the new year as they defeated Westoe 19-13 at Moorend.
The Moorenders knew that their visitors’ lowly position in the table was no excuse for complacency.
Westoe confirmed that they hadn’t come to simply lie down when Ben Roberts went in for a try shortly after kick-off. The conversion attempt drifted wide.
An error by Westoe gave the Moorenders a penalty and the ball was kicked to the corner. Cleckheaton’s trustworthy strike move of the catch-and-drive was put into action and Rob Afoa Peterson marked his return to action, following a shoulder injury, with an equalising try.
Ross Hayden added the extras to give Cleckheaton a narrow lead.
The South Shields visitors could have re-taken the lead but a kick at goal just to the right of the sticks, on the 22 metre line, failed to make the distance.
Richard Piper, who was introduced into the back row after a two-week absence, teamed up with Callum Thompson to mark his return with a big hit, as the pair crashed into a Westoe attacker, instantly nullifying the momentum that the visiting men were building.
Cleckheaton cleared their lines and apart from another failed penalty attempt from the visitors, the scorer remained untroubled for the last few minutes of the half.
The second half started in much the same way as the first with a very early try for Westoe. This time Jamie Judson got the touch down in the corner to give them a 10-7 lead.
The visitors played with passion and made Cleckheaton work hard for every yard but the Moorenders were up for the challenge and once again got a kick to the corner, resulting in a try for Richard Piper.
With the game poised at 12-10 there were some tense moments as both sides had opportunities but failed to convert them into points.
Alex Dawson had some good rumbling runs to earn himself man-of-the-match and Hayden and Lee Queeley combined with flair to go within inches of the whitewash.
Unfortunately Hayden got a smack to the nose during the attack and had to leave the field.
Cleckheaton kept the momentum up and were rewarded with another line-out close to Westoe’s line. Despite the desperate attempts of the visitors to resist Cleckheaton’s drive, Richard Piper dived over for his second. Jarrad Toulson converted.
The last six or seven minutes of the game were an anxious affair. Westoe attacked with vigour piling the pressure on the Cleckheaton line. Ollie Akroyd infringed and, given the proximity of the whitewash, was shown a yellow card.
Two minutes later he was followed by Toulson, who would claim mistaken identity but nevertheless the Moorenders would have to see the game out with 13 men.
Westoe opted to take guaranteed points immediately and kicked a penalty goal to bring the score to 19-13.
With the tension of a final kick-off to come, many a nail was being bitten on the touchline but despite being two men down Cleckheaton did not let Westoe back into their half as the full-time whistle sounded.