CLECKHEATON turned on the style to secure a crucial 47-14 win over Pocklington with arguably their best performance of the season.
They came into the game on the back of a six-match losing run, but the intensity shown in training following a week off from the action saw them in great shape for an excellent victory.
Paul Turner returned to the front row and Jack Bickerdike resumed at scrum-half after injury, while Ollie Depledge moved to centre and enjoyed an impressive game.
On a breezy day, Cleckheaton played with the wind and the slope in their favour in the first half and opened the scoring on 17 minutes when Dale Breakwell struck a penalty goal from 35m out.
At the restart Jack Seddon was taken out in the air and Pocklington flanker Sayer was shown a yellow card. Breakwell’s trusty boot then doubled Cleck’s lead to 6-0 on the half hour mark.
The advantage was short-lived, as Pocklington this time gained possession from the restart, although it appeared once more as if Seddon had been knocked off the ball in the air. Pocklington’s forwards were not dwelling on that though and rumbled up field before scrum-half Rees crashed over under the posts for a converted try and the lead.
As half-time approached, Cleck got their first try of the game. Good work by skipper Matt Piper and Depledge put Danny Booth clear to score near the corner, and Breakwell added the goal from the touchline for a 13-7 lead at the interval.
The game took a dramatic turn early in the second half when Pocklington’s Marcus Britland was dismissed for a stamping incident. The resulting penalty was kicked by Breakwell and Cleck were now 16-7 up.
Cleckheaton were keeping the pressure on and looking to play some very nice rugby. A line out and rolling maul, expertly controlled by Niall Jackson, took play to five metres from the Pocklington line where, after Bickerdike was held up, Turner plunged over the line for his first try of the season. Breakwell improved the score and Cleckheaton were opening up a decent lead.
Midway through the second period Breakwell added to his personal points tally with his first try for Cleckheaton after good work by the pack, and the same player converted to bring Cleck’s advantage to 30-7.
Pocklington got a consolation try on 68 minutes via lock forward Fothergill, but Cleckheaton were not about to allow the home side any glimmer of hope.
Danny Booth went in for his 11th try of the season with a smart grubber kick which he regathered to crash over in the corner. Breakwell added another penalty as the game drew into its last five minutes but Cleckheaton saved the best moment of the game until last.
Man of the match Seddon topped off an awesome performance when he gathered the ball from the restart and broke through the defensive line. He passed the ball to Mikey Hayward who found Josh Plunkett in support, who in turn provided a return pass to Seddon.
The No8 dived over the line to score Cleckheaton’s fifth try of the game and his ninth of the season.
This was a spectacular end to a fantastic team performance and shows that hard work in midweek can really set the tone for the weekend.
They will want to back that up and further ease any relegation fears when they host Driffield tomorrow (Saturday, kick-off 3pm) at Moorend.