CLECKHEATON RUFC made the long trip to Morpeth and for the second year in a row came back empty-handed on the end of a 34-19 defeat.
The team’s recent home record has been outstanding, but they still search for their first win on the road in the 2018/19 season.
Morpeth started the better and had the game’s first score after only five minutes, when a break down the right-hand side and an offload in the tackle led to a try for winger Jake Stevenson, converted by Fraser Boldy to give the home team a 7-0 lead.
On 15 minutes, Cleckheaton equalised following a good set piece line out. The resulting maul rumbled towards the Morpeth goal line put was taken to ground short. The ball was quickly recycled by scrum-half Jack Bickerdike and quick hands by Ben Dearing and Mike Swetman put full-back Wilson over. Swetman added the extras.
Both sides were guilty of handling errors as the rain intensified. On the half hour mark, following two quick penalties, Morpeth were camped on the visitors line and when the ball was moved wide to the right, a second try was scored, converted by Boldy.
On the stroke of half-time, scrum-half Jack Elliott increased the lead with a blindside move from a scrum close to the line.
The referee blew to end the first period and Cleckheaton had been hit with two quick tries, leaving them trailing 19-7.
At the start of the second half, Cleckheaton had to shuffle the pack through injury to Joey Carley and Thiu Barnard, and matters weren’t helped when replacement prop Niall Jackson was shown the yellow card for tackling a player without the ball, with the simple penalty goal taking the score to 22-7.
Whilst Cleck were reduced to 14 men, Morpeth left winger Jake Jardine broke away to score a fine try to give the home side a try-scoring bonus point and a 27-7 lead.
Cleckheaton started to gain a bit more confidence midway through the period and after several phases, replacement Martin Woodhead was pushed over the line for a try, although Swetman hit the post with the conversion.
Ten minutes from time, a searing run down the left by Jardine and a smart kick through found no Cleckheaton player within 10 metres of the try line and flanker Mickey Craigs picked up and scored under the posts to put the game out of reach, with the successful conversion making it 34-12.
Cleckheaton did not give up the ghost and battled hard in an attempt to claw back some of Morpeth’s advantage. With two tries in the bag already a bonus point was not out of the question.
That became a real possibility when Cleckheaton won a scrum against the head and James Crowther powered over for a try from 10 metres out. Dearing converted with Swetman now off the field due to a calf injury.
Cleckheaton were playing with some real urgency late on, but unfortunately time ran out and the Moorenders came away with nothing. That was a fourth defeat out of four on their travels, and they will be glad of a return to home turf where they have come out on top in both games so far.
Struggling West Leeds make the trip to Moorend tomorrow (Saturday), with kick-off at 3pm.