Cleckheaton mistakes hand Penrith win in season opener

Cleckheaton mistakes hand Penrith win in season opener

Cleckheaton RUFC lost 38-20 in their first league game of the 2017/18 season at Penrith last Saturday. 

Penrith, on paper, are one of the strongest sides in the league, after finishing runners up and narrowly missing out on promotion last year.

The bus journey was not ideal due to an accident on the M6, meaning a three-hour trip with no stop-off to stretch the legs en-route. 

This took its toll on Cleckheaton, who started slightly off the pace and with a handling error and a missed tackle found themselves trailing 12-0 in as many minutes. 

Mike Swetman converted a penalty goal for Cleck giving them their first points on the board and shortly after, the game’s best try was scored.

Mike Hayward broke away from his own 22, gliding upfield at pace before feeding the supporting Ronan Evans for an excellent try. 

Swetman converted from close to the touchline side and Cleckheaton were back in it at the break.

Early in the second half, Ben Thrower entered the ruck from the side and Penrith were given a penalty, which they tapped immediately. 

With Cleckheaton’s defensive line not yet established, the home side executed a simple two-on-one for another try.

Cleckheaton’s woes continued as Jack Seddon was sin-binned, somewhat harshly, for a technical offence, and during his 10 minutes on the sideline Penrith went in for two more tries to effectively seal their victory. 

Cleckheaton did not give up though and despite trailing 31-10, upped the intensity to a level that would have surely given them the spoils if only they had started the match in a similar fashion. 

Several Cleckheaton forwards went close before Hayward tiptoed in down the touchline.

Cleckheaton threw the ball around with vigour in the last 10 minutes but when a tap-back from a Cleckheaton cross-field kick was intercepted by a Penrith player, the Cumbrians went in for their sixth and final try. 

The West Yorkshire men had the last say however when Evans went in for his second after excellent handling from Matt Piper and Swetman.

The final score of 38-20 slightly flattered the home side. 

Cleckheaton’s mistakes gifted Penrith tries and with a little tightening up in defence, the Moorenders could easily have taken the spoils. 

This weekend the team travel up the road to Wagon Lane to play Bradford & Bingley, where old rivalries can once again be rejuvenated in what is the first local derby of Cleckheaton’s season. 

On the topic of local derbies, both the second team and third team host Old Brodleians this weekend, with the seconds at Moorend and the thirds at Whitcliffe.

Both kick off at 3pm.

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