CLECKHEATON RUFC bounced back from last week’s heavy opening loss at Malton and Norton by defeating neighbours Bradford & Bingley 25-17 in an entertaining game in wet conditions at Moorend.
Cleckheaton opened the scoring on eight minutes following good work by the pack, securing the ball from a line-out and setting up a rolling maul which hooker James Crowther was on hand to touch down.
The advantage was extended when Mike Swetman barrelled his way past two would-be tacklers to score under the posts from 25m out. Ben Dearing added the extras to make it 12-0 after 19 minutes, and Cleck were looking comfortable.
The two sides exchanged penalties before, with a couple of minutes to half-time, Cleckheaton won a scrum 40 metres out and scrum-half Jack Bickerdike scampered up the blindside and stepped inside the final defender to score a fine try under the posts for a 20-3 lead at the break.
Cleckheaton continued the second half with another fine try, as great handling by the backs worked a clear overlap for winger Keiron Downs to cross for the bonus-point try.
Tempers began to fray and the referee issued a stern warning to both captains, and after one infringement too many Joey Carley was sent to the sin bin.
The Bees started to play a more expansive game to exploit the extra man and crossed under the posts for a converted try to reduce their deficit to 25-10.
Cleckheaton were sitting back and this handed the attacking impetus to the Bees, who worked two clear overlaps only to knock on with the line at their mercy, before finally crossing for their second try with four minutes left.
They took a quick conversion to further reduce the arrears, but Cleck held on for an important win.
They will look to back up that performance tomorrow (Saturday), when they travel to a Scarborough side who sit above Cleck in the table courtesy of an extra bonus point.