CLECKHEATON RUFC slipped to 11th in the National League Three North standings following a 23-16 home defeat to Sandal.
The visitors got off to a great start with a penalty in front of the hosts sticks to take a 3-0 lead.
This was followed up with a try from Steve Graham, who squeezed through a gap in the Moorenders’ defence to score the game’s first try.
Sandal now had a 10-point lead with as many minutes gone on the clock.
But Cleckheaton responded well to the poor start, scoring their first try through Josh Hall who touched down in the corner.
The conversion from the touchline was narrowly off target.
But once again errors crept into Cleck’s game, which was evident from the restart when Sandal were given a chance after the hosts spilled the ball.
Cleck’s defence dealt with the pressure well and prevented a Sandal try, but the away side did edge further in front thanks to a drop goal from Gregg Wood.
The Moorenders countered with a Neil Chivers penalty, but their chances of getting anything from the game were all but over when Ryan Piercy and Ben Thrower were sent to the sin-bin for technical offences within seven minutes of each other.
The hosts were resilient but eventually succumbed to another try when Simon Frewin crossed for a seven-pointer.
With just moments left of the first half Chivers gave Cleck something of a lifeline thanks to a penalty goal which brought his side to within nine points of Sandal at the break.
In the second period Cleckheaton looked the better team, but handling errors ended try-scoring opportunities close to their opponents line.
Wood looked to have sealed the win for the Wakefield side when he landed another penalty, but the closing stages were made interesting when Hall went over for his second try of the game.
Cleckheaton pushed for another try late on and went close again when Matt Piper and Hall combined, but Sandal dealt with the pressure and held on for the win.
Sandal are third following the win, while Cleckheaton look to end their three-game losing streak with a trip to face Doncaster Phoenix tomorrow (Sat, 3pm) before having a break ahead of their home game against Kendal on October 29 (3pm).
The Kestrels were also in action last weekend away at Selby, after Sheffield Tigers had no front row to fulfil the second team Merit League fixture.
A Ronan Evans double followed up with tries from Kieron Downs and Lewis Beasty earned the Kestrels a hard-fought 22-18 win.