CLECKHEATON were unable to prevent a stunning second half fightback by Beverley as they suffered an unfortunate defeat in North One East last Saturday.
Cleck produced all the early pressure and in the seventh minute Iain Gordon rewarded their enterprise with a penalty.
With Richard Piper at his belligerent best, Cleckheaton continued their dominance in all phases and Gordon extended the lead with a second penalty.
In the 24th minute Beverley made their first foray into Cleckheaton territory and from a lineout big prop Manu Kirkwood was driven over for a try.
Cleckheaton hit back almost immediately when Martin Woodhead was given the space to score out wide. Gordon converted and five minutes later added a penalty to open up an 11-point lead.
Cleck had dominated but as half-time approached and with winger James Wilson in the sin bin, Beverley were given a lifeline when poor tackling allowed back row Dave Worrall to burst through to score and Phil Duboulay converted.
There was still time for Gordon to strike another penalty but Beverley had given warning of their ability to punish.
With Wilson still in the sin bin Worrall once more showed his strength to score a second try, again Duboulay converted.
The visitors began to panic under pressure and the style of play executed so effectively in the first half began to break down.
As on two previous occasions this season a decent lead was slowly but surely being eroded.
Doubts were entering the players’ minds and the opposition reacted accordingly.
With 10 minutes remaining Duboulay put Beverley ahead for the first time with a penalty.
Beverley full-back Richard Bussey scored again and Duboulay converted to give his side a victory which was harsh on a Cleckheaton team which had more than matched their high ranking hosts.
Left with not even a bonus point for their efforts the team can take some consolation from the fact that Beverley supporters rated them the best team they had watched this season.
Richard Piper was undoubtedly man-of-the-match and by some margin the best player on the field, followed by the hard working Ryan Piercy, Steve Worsley and Gordon, who controlled play in the first half with his astute kicking into space.
n Cleckheaton Kestrels made it seven wins in seven games with a seven-try haul as they defeated Selby 41-7 in the Merit Championship.
Jarrad Toulson returned to the Kestrels following first team duty and was among the scorers, along with Craig Blackburn, Nathan Clayton, Tom Brooke, Tom Crewe, Patrick Horrigan and Gareth Lamb. Toulson added three goals.
There was also praise for youngsters Josh White and Cameron Brannan, who are showing great promise in their first season of open age rugby.
Cleckheaton sit second in table, behind Ilkley by one bonus point ahead of Saturday’s top-of-the-table clash.
n Cleckheaton thirds lost at home to a strong Yarnbury side and the fourths were defeated by West Division Two leaders Huddersfield YM thirds.
n Three Cleckheaton Junior Colts represented West Yorkshire Junior Colts at York RI last Sunday.
Niall Jackson had a solid game in West Yorkshire’s first game, a 14-0 victory over East Yorkshire.
Cleck’s Reece Jagger and Bradley Marsden then played a major part as West Yorkshire thrashed their South Yorkshire counterparts 40-0.
n Cleck Under-13s cruised into the next round of the Yorkshire Cup, needing only 24 minutes to reach the required 40-point winning margin against Guisborough.
MoM Joe Tilby-Baxter scored a hat-trick, Darren Ali-Scott bagged a brace, while Drew Judge-Clark and James Walker also crossed. Dominic Howarth (two) and Eli Steinberg added conversions.
Guisborough gamely decided to compete in a friendly for the second half, with Cleck loaning them Walker, Oliver Barker, Lewis Duggan and Joe Enright.
Cieran Lewis bagged a second half brace, while Judge-Clark scored a further three.