Photo: Gerald Christian
CLECKHEATON ground out an invaluable away victory last weekend as they overcame local rivals Bradford and Bingley in a hard-fought encounter.
They worked hard in all areas of the game to secure the win, a fifth in a row against the Bees, with the hard work of the forwards culminating in tries for Ollie Depledge, Jack Marshall and Mikey Hayward.
Bradley Marsden returned in the second-row, partnered by Josh Plunkett, whilst Joey Carley, who was named in the starting XV, was dropped to the bench with a slight niggle and replaced by Gus Milborne.
Bees kicked off with the wind at their backs and quickly got on the attack, but resolute defence kept the hosts at bay.
The first score came at the other end of the field, with Cleckheaton winning turnover ball in midfield. They swept the ball to the right with James Wilson and Marshall making ground, and Depledge was on hand to touch down in the corner.
Dale Breakwell couldn’t add the extras with his first kick of the match but Cleckheaton led after six minutes.
The game was end-to-end without troubling the scoreboard and both Breakwell and Lance Taylor missed penalty kicks in this spell.
There was a scuffle on the main-stand side on 28 minutes and a penalty was awarded after the dust had settled.
When Cleckheaton infringed again and another penalty went the Bees way, quick-thinking saw Taylor throw a long pass to put Adam Sutcliffe into space to score in the corner. Taylor then added the goal from the touchline to give his side the lead.
As half-time approached, both sides had chances to add to the score but it remained 7-5 at the break.
Early in the second half, Cleckheaton worked the ball to the right, Marshall was on the end of a pin-point kick from Breakwell and he blasted past the last line of defence to score a fine try in the corner and put his side back in front.
Whilst the backs were getting over the whitewash, the Cleckheaton pack were dominant in both attack and defence. Flankers Tom Lillicrop and Gus Milborne were making the hard yards while Andy Piper, Niall Jackson and Josh Plunkett put in some thumping tackles to keep the Bees at bay.
Bradford and Bingley didn’t help their cause with several unforced handling errors and Cleckheaton capitalised with a third try on 53 minutes.
A booming kick out of defence wasn’t dealt with by the full-back and from the resulting scrum, Jack Seddon picked up at the base, feeding Tom Breakwell who linked with his half-back partner.
He gave a long pass to the wing where Hayward had plenty to do but he squeezed in near the corner flag for his 11th try of the season to take the score to 7-15.
With 11 minutes left to play, Dale Breakwell finally adjusted the radar and kicked his first goal of the game, a 35-metre effort that stretched the lead further.
The Bees now had their best spell of the contest, retaining possession and driving forward only to be met by stout Cleckheaton defence.
On 78 minutes, the home side got across for their second try after good work by the pack up the left-hand side culminated in hooker Alex Keeton touching down. The kick was missed but they were within striking distance.
With time running out the Bees made a final attack down the left wing, but a crunching tackle by Depledge forced the ball carrier over the touchline and the referee brought an end to the game.
The four league points put Cleck up to fifth in the North One East table ahead of their final game before the Christmas break tomorrow (Saturday).
Kendal, who are 10th in the division, will visit Moorend, with kick-off put back to 3pm due to a pre-game club luncheon taking place.