Photo: Gerald Christian
CLECKHEATON got their season back on track with a bonus-point victory over Malton and Norton (29-22) at a soggy Moorend.
Consecutive defeats to Morley and Pocklington had set them back after a positive start to the campaign, but they rediscovered their groove to see off Malton and keep pace with the top five.
Three tries in seven sensational minutes had the bonus point in the bag by half-time for Cleck, although they had to hold on towards the end when Malton threatened a comeback.
Tom Austin and Ryan Piercy missed out along with player-coach Thiu Barnard, leaving the pack without a recognised second row. Josh Plunkett and Ben Etchells, normally back-row forwards, covered the positions while Brad Marsden was unavailable.
Malton kicked off and a mix-up in the home defence gave possession to the impressive second-row Jack Hobbs who charged downfield, but the chance was lost by a supporting player nudging the ball forward.
Cleckheaton got a foothold in the visitors 22 and from a scrum, captain Matt Piper made a charge for the line but the referee deemed the ball to be held up.
The next attack saw Cleckheaton almost breach the Malton defence after a good combination by Olly Depledge and James Wilson put Jack Marshall into space but the winger was tackled into touch.
The first try came after 21 minutes from a scrum deep in the Malton 22. Dale Breakwell and Matt Piper exchanged passes and created a gap for Mikey Hayward to cross in the corner.
Malton’s pack was taking a bit of a battering in the scrum but the back line looked to be capable of scoring and from an attacking position outside-half Bulmer threw a long pass that was intercepted by Breakwell.
He galloped 60 metres down the field, Depledge was on hand and Hayward eventually crossed for his 10th try of the season to give Cleckheaton a 10-0 lead.
On 35 minutes, a perfect cross-field kick from Breakwell sat up for Marshall to gather 30 metres out and he blasted past the winger to touch down.
The next score came just before half-time and it was a long-range effort that started deep inside the Cleckheaton half.
Depledge made a clean outside break and fed Hayward who gave a return pass to Depledge to race under the posts for the bonus-point try. Breakwell converted to make it 22-0 at half-time.
Within two minutes of the restart, Malton opened their account when Bulmer sold an outrageous dummy that foxed the home defence and flanker Lowry was in support to cross for the try.
However, Breakwell and Marshall combined on 51 minutes for the pacy winger to cross for his fifth try of the season. Breakwell converted, that goal giving him 100 points for the season, and the lead was 29-5.
From the restart, Jack Seddon claimed the ball but was tackled in the air and Bowman was sent to the sin bin.
Marshall joined him on the naughty step moments later after a contentious deliberate knock-on decision.
Chris Piper and Archie Rika-Rayne gave some fresh legs, replacing Andy Piper and Niall Jackson, but there was fight left in the visitors and Bulmer got through the narrowest of gaps to score a good try on 62 minutes, converting himself to make it 29-12.
Six minutes later, Bulmer crossed again to the left of the posts but screwed the conversion wide.
The final score of the game came after concerted pressure on the Cleckheaton line, with Lowry driving over from the rolling maul to secure Malton two bonus points.
But Cleck held on for the win, and can go into the two-week break in good spirits before returning to action at local rivals Bradford and Bingley on December 7.