CLECKHEATON RUFC surged to a 27-13 victory over Huddersfield YMCA and maintained their winning run at Moorend, where they haven’t lost since the beginning of February.
They turned on the style in the second half to see off local rivals YM after a strong defensive effort in the first 40 minutes. Cleckheaton made five changes from last week’s tough loss, with captain Matt Piper and Tom Austin joining Josh Plunkett on the injured list, and Paul Turner out through suspension.
YMCA kicked off playing with the wind and put the home side under pressure early on, successfully kicking a penalty goal after four minutes via the boot of Gavin Stead.
The same player had another chance on 14 minutes but his kick came back off the post, and when Cleckheaton knocked on trying to clear their line, the resulting scrum led to an opening try for YMCA wide on the right.
Cleckheaton had very few opportunities in the opening 20 minutes and YMCA showed commendable ball retention and an almost negligible error rate, with only strong defence keeping the visitors out. Cleckheaton made a great break down the middle via Mikey Hayward but he was tackled just short of the line.
On the half-hour mark, a Cleckheaton scrum rumbled forward and was well controlled by Jack Seddon, who picked up from the back to score their opening try. Mike Swetman was wide with the conversion so the scoreboard read 5-8.
Stead missed another penalty at the end of the half when Barnard was penalised for a shoulder charge on YMCA lock Ed Black, and got a yellow card and an injury which ruled him out of the rest of the game. The teams swapped ends with just three points in it.
On 49 minutes, Seddon peeled off a lineout and powered over for his second try, putting Cleck ahead for the first time in the match. Swetman added a towering conversion from the right touchline to double Cleckheaton’s lead to 12-8.
The referee awarded YMCA a penalty on the half-way line before play restarted, but Stead was short with that effort.
Mobbs took the field for Cleckheaton, replacing Jackson who had a tremendous first half defensively, Crowther moved to flanker to replace Barnard after his yellow card had been served.
The big Cleckheaton pack was powering forward in the mauls and giving YMCA a torrid time. On 60 minutes, winger Martin Woodhead joined the push and was rewarded for his effort when he grounded the ball a short time later. Swetman added the conversion and then extended Cleck’s lead with a simple penalty on 71 minutes after YMCA had a player yellow carded for not releasing.
YMCA added their second try when concerted attacks down the right wing left Cleckheaton short of defenders and a try was scored, although the conversion was once again missed.
As the clock ticked on a sublime chip ahead by Swetman was gathered by Hayward, who stepped inside the defence to score the bonus point try and seal a deserved 27-13 victory.
Cleck now sit in ninth spot in the table, and have a break from the action this weekend before making the long trip north to face third-placed Morpeth the following Saturday (October 13).