CLECKHEATON RUFC made a valiant second-half comeback but a first-half blitz from York proved too great to overcome as they lost 49-29.
Despite winning all three matches at Moorend so far this season, Cleck are yet to pick up a win on the road this season, and five home tries in the first period had them staring at defeat.
A losing bonus-point looked the best they could hope for and they rallied admirably to earn it in a style that had home support fearing a remarkable comeback, but York were able to pull clear again in the closing stages.
Cleckheaton were without Brad Marsden, who was unavailable due to work commitments, and Andy Piper with an injury. Charlie McGovern and Archie Rika-Rayne took their places in the starting line-up, whilst Chris Piper and Gus Milborne joined the bench, the latter being given his first-team debut.
Cleckheaton may have been lulled into a false sense of security after beating a depleted West Hartlepool last weekend but York, on this showing, are a different prospect all together. They played the game with electric pace and their expansive backs were used to great effect.
The home team scored five first-half tries, claiming a try-scoring bonus point after only 24 minutes in a dominant spell.
Cleckheaton struggled to retain much useful possession but did manage a push-over try, which was grounded by Ben Thrower, following good work at the lineout and a penalty from the boot of Dale Breakwell.
Coach Thiu Barnard brought Jack Seddon into the fray on the half-hour mark, looking to bring an attacking spark to the team, but this did not stem York’s flow and as the sides changed ends Cleckheaton were staring at a thrashing, with the scoreboard reading 35-10.
The coaching team blasted out some home truths to the players at half-time and this seemed to do the trick. The side restarted the game with renewed vigour but without James Wilson and Joey Carley with rib and shoulder injuries respectively, which will effect them beyond this game.
Chris Piper and Milborne joined the action and Cleckheaton got on the scoresheet only a few minutes after the restart. Good recycling and hard work from the forwards led to a Josh Plunkett try.
It was now all Cleckheaton with the back row of Austin, McGovern and Seddon winning the battle on the ground and Cleck’s scrum looking improved with Chris Piper adding his strength and experience. The back line was functioning well with Matt Piper and Olly Depledge supplying winger Mikey Hayward and full-back Jack Marshall with plenty of ball for them to fox York’s defence with their elusive running.
York’s cause was not helped by having a man in the sin-bin and within minutes Cleckheaton scored again via Ryan Piercy, with Dale Breakwell adding the extras.
Fifteen minutes into the second half Cleck claimed their hard-earned try-scoring bonus point when Tom Breakwell went in for their fourth, which brother Dale converted.
Cleckheaton were now within just six points of their opponents and if they had gone on to take the lead it would’ve been one of their greatest comebacks in recent times.
Despite the extra fitness which Cleckheaton are clearly displaying this season, legs were getting weary and York found a small gap in the Cleck defence and prized it open to score another try.
This took the game away from the Moorenders, who were now trailing by 13 points, and York went on to add another score in injury-time to make the final result look more comfortable than it would have felt at one point for many on the touchline.
Sixth-placed Cleck return to home comforts tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 3pm) and will attempt to continue their excellent Moorend record when they host Durham City for the first time in a number of years.
Durham have won three of their first six matches but have lost two out of two on the road so far.