Cleckheaton end year on high note

Cleckheaton end year on high note
Photo: Gerald Christian

CLECKHEATON will spend the Christmas break fourth in the league table after a bonus-point victory over Kendal.

James Wilson’s late score earned them all five competition points from a hard-fought encounter at a blustery Moorend.

Cleckheaton were unchanged from the derby win over Bradford and Bingley the previous week with the exception of Chris Piper taking his place on the bench.

Kendal went on the attack from the start and when outside-half Glen Weightman sliced through the defence, Rory Blankney-Edwards was on hand to take the scoring pass. 

A few minutes later Cleckheaton were back on level terms with hooker Ben Thrower forcing his way over the whitewash for his sixth try of the season, although Dale Breakwell was wide with the kick to keep the scores level.

Kendal were trying to get their backline moving but seemed to kick a lot of possession away which Wilson, Mikey Hayward and Jack Marshall dealt with competently and frequently returned the ball with interest. 

Once again the powerful Cleckheaton forwards were making the hard yards and kept putting the visitors on the back foot. At a scrum five metres from the line, the chance seemed to be lost when the ball came free and Jack Seddon had to turn and pick up, but he had enough power to get over the whitewash for his fifth try of the season. 

Breakwell goaled and Cleckheaton led for the first time at 12-5, although this was reduced on 25 minutes when Weightman slotted a simple penalty.

Three minutes later, Kendal got their second try with a simple catch and drive from a lineout close to the tryline. Wrathall was the scorer and Weightman added the extras to restore the lead to 12-15. 

Scoring opportunities were limited and, as half-time approached, Breakwell attempted a 35-metre drop goal that sailed wide of the posts.

The first points of the second half came after 10 minutes, with prop Andy Piper rumbling over the try line and Breakwell adding the goal as Cleck edged back in front in this see-saw game.

Cleckheaton put some fresh legs on the park with Chris Piper and Archie Rika-Rayne replacing Niall Jackson and Thrower, while Ben Etchells got some game time in replacing the outstanding Tom Lillicrop, who along with Gus Milborne had fine games. 

Breakwell had a chance to put the game to bed with three minutes left but his 30-metre penalty went wide. 

They went into panic mode at the restart as a quick tap on the 22 saw Kendal make 20 yards but the ball was lost in contact. When Ollie Depledge picked up the loose ball he fed Wilson who powered away for the bonus-point try.

Breakwell added the goal and the referee ended a contest which had entertained the big crowd from start to finish.

There will be Boxing Day rugby at Moorend with Old Brodlieans making the short trip down the road. Kick-off is at 11am and the club will be open with food and drink available all day.

League action returns on January 4 with Percy Park visiting for a 2.15pm kick-off.

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