Photo: Dennis Elam
CLECKHEATON missed the chance to climb up to second place in the table as they were defeated by local rivals Morley at Moorend (10-14).
Both sides had made strong starts to the season and put their all into a brilliantly-contested local derby, with both defences playing exceptionally well.
But it was Morley who held on to a narrow lead for most of the match to earn bragging rights, coming back from Cleckheaton with a win for the first time since 2010.
Cleckheaton had the better of the first half and perhaps should have done better against the Morley 14 when prop Alex Fishwick was yellow carded for interfering with a quick penalty.
Morley were 3-0 in the lead at that stage after a good Mark Chester penalty after six minutes. This followed a surprising penalty kick miss from the normally accurate boots of Dale Breakwell for the hosts.
Cleckheaton had the majority of possession in an arm-wrestle type of game in the first half. However Morley’s defence, which is the tightest in the league, held firm and only one break by Mikey Hayward caused concern until he was brought down by Jay West, who was making his league debut on the wing and performed impressively.
Morley made a couple of changes at half-time with both Steve Graham and Larne Patrick coming off to allow Sam Patterson and George Kelly onto the field.
Cleckheaton initially looked stronger with Breakwell narrowing the gap to 6-3 only three minutes after the restart, and it took firm defence from Morley to stop Cleckheaton building on their score.
The defence gradually pushed back Cleckheaton and Morley had the upper hand. A dart by Patterson nearly brought rewards before a long kick by Chester and pressure by West and Andy Ellis forced Cleckheaton to carry the ball over their own line.
Morley were now building up attacks with greater consistency and Cleckheaton infringed to let Chester kick his third penalty to move them further ahead to 9-3 on 67 minutes.
Better was still to come for Morley. As Cleckheaton tried to get out of their 22, a great turnover by Nick Green gave them possession and quick hands along the back allowed West sufficient space to score out wide.
Chester’s touchline conversion attempt hit the post but Morley were now 14-3 in front with just seven minutes to go.
The score was to last only a couple of minutes though as Cleckheaton capitalised on a couple of errors by the Maroons for centre Oliver Depledge to run in and score a try which, come the end of the game, gave Cleck the consolation of a losing bonus point.
Breakwell made no mistake with the conversion but they couldn’t further points in the final minutes and Morley could celebrate their victory.
Cleck moved down to fifth in the league table as a result, and will look to bounce back tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 2.15pm) when they travel to a Pocklington side who have picked up only two wins from their opening nine games this season.