Battling Cleckheaton lose at promotion contenders

Cleckheaton's Luke Pearson attempts to steal the ball at a Hull lineout during last Saturday's National League Three North clash. 'Picture: Gerald Christian
Cleckheaton's Luke Pearson attempts to steal the ball at a Hull lineout during last Saturday's National League Three North clash. 'Picture: Gerald Christian
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Cleckheaton put in a battling performance at promotion hopefuls Hull, despite conceding five tries in a 31-16 National Three North defeat.

A valiant effort took them close to producing an upset but indiscipline ultimately proved costly and left the Moorenders with no points to show for their hard work. 

Hull started with an intimidatory air but any thoughts that their superior sized pack would give them a psychological advantage were soon dispelled as Cleckheaton took the forwards on.

Cleckheaton were dealt a blow and had cause for concern as the game was stopped to attend to winger Gareth Lamb who had what appeared to be a serious spinal injury. 

The player was taken to hospital by ambulance but thankfully was discharged on Saturday evening with no serious long-term issues.

The game restarted after a 25 minute break with Mark Barlow replacing Lamb and making his debut for the club.

Strong forward drives by Cleckheaton, with Rich Piper to the fore and Luke Pearson making inroads, placed pressure on Hull’s defence but the home side survived.

Cleckheaton’s chances were dealt a severe blow when Paul Turner was red-carded following a clash with Hull’s second row, Dario Jurcevic, who was shown a yellow card.

Despite being down to 14 men Cleckheaton’s efforts were rewarded when winger Martin Woodhead crossed for an unconverted try and Josh Hall extended the half-time lead to 8-0 with a penalty

Hull started the second half strongly and full-back Lee Birch finished off a nice handling move with a try.

Hull continued to press but Cleckheaton’s defence prevented them from crossing.

As Cleck scrambled for possession a couple of penalties were conceded and the referee’s patience wore thin as hooker Joey Carley was sin-binned, leaving the visitors down to 13 men.

Minutes later, as the visitors continued to thwart Hull’s superior numbers, the referee awarded a penalty try which was converted by Josh Bragman to give Hull a 12 -8 lead but Josh Hall pulled a penalty goal back to leave just a point in it.

Hull extended the lead back to six when Robinson scored an unconverted try.

Cleckheaton were not going to lie down however and following a line out close to Hull’s line, Rich Piper peeled away from the back of a maul for a try to bring the scores to a tantalising 17-16.

An upset looked possible but two late tries for Hull, the latter of which came from the good fortune of a freak bounce, slanted the score line in the home side’s favour. 

Cleck showed they have the heart to take on any team in the division and if they can cut out the penalties, while continuing the level of commitment, it will not be long before the victories start flowing.