CLECKHEATON suffered their first defeat of the season (27-19) as a second-half fightback fell short against Percy Park.
They made the long trip to North Shields buoyed by an opening-day win at home to Scarborough, but found things tougher on the road as their opponents raced into a 24-5 lead with a dominant first half.
The home side began well in the sunshine and dominated the territory early on. They got the first try following a penalty, with Ash Smith finding winger Ross Young in space on the right with the help of a lucky bounce to score.
Park kept on the front foot but an intercept put Cleck on the attack for the first time in the match and they took advantage as Dale Breakwell’s cross-field kick found James Wilson to score in the corner and level.
Another penalty proved costly for Cleckheaton though, as Park kicked for the corner, retained the lineout and attacked. With an advantage in the bag after another offence, captain Seb Reece crossed the line to put them 10-5 in front after a quarter of the match.
Breakwell attempted to claw back some of that difference with an audacious drop-goal attempt that didn’t find the target, and they were soon under pressure after a prop was sent to the sin bin for slowing down the ball.
Percy took advantage of the extra man as Toby Davison touched down in the corner from a scrum, with Smith adding the conversion.
And the hosts had a bonus point secure before half-time with a fourth try. The ball was shipped wide to Will Robinson after a dummy and the winger sped through and rounded the last defender for another try, again converted by Smith, which gave them a commanding lead at the break.
Cleckheaton had the wind advantage in the second half and made a more positive start, narrowing the deficit after five minutes. Mikey Hayward ran a good line to take an inside pass and cross, with Breakwell adding the conversion.
The visitors continued to pile on pressure and should have had another try, but two Cleck players chasing a Breakwell kick tripped each other over to allow Park to gather the ball.
They did make amends for that soon after though, with their man of the match Danny Booth crossing and Breakwell converting to make it 24-19 and set-up a tense final 10 minutes.
However, the hosts managed to regroup to go on the attack, and a penalty in front of the posts allowed Smith to kick another three points and virtually secure the match.
Another Cleckheaton try would at least have earned them two bonus points, but they couldn’t score again in the final minutes and they made the trip home empty-handed.
They return to Moorend tomorrow (kick-off 3pm) to welcome Huddersfield YMCA, who have lost both of their games so far this season.