CLECKHEATON should have a far stronger side on duty for their first game of the season when Sheffield visit Moorend tomorrow in North East One (kick off 3pm).
An understrength, patched up, Cleckheaton side suffered a 32-25 defeat at promoted Malton & Norton last Saturday, while Sheffield, who also made the step up last season, sent out a clear message of their intentions this season with a 55-2 success at Gateshead.
Cleckheaton will again be without long term injury worries Jonno Marshall and back row forward Tom Brook, who both had shoulder operations in the summer, while Dave Freeman is serving in Afghanistan.
However, the Moorenders should have a far stronger half-back partnership on duty tomorrow with last season’s young player of the year Ollie Depledge returning alongside experienced stand-off Iain Gordon.
Matt Piper has been suffering from a slight back injury but he should be fit to take his place on the bench tomorrow.
Coach Dave Harrison explained: “We are going to be without players for quite a few weeks.
“Jonno should be back at the end of October or beginning of November and it will be Christmas before Tom is back.
“Malton weren’t all that good and even with a scrcatch side out we could have won.
“We had a great home record last year and only lost once, so we will be looking to pick up where we left off.
“Sheffield are coming on the back of a 55-point win, so they look to have set an early mark as one of the teams to beat.”
Tom Slater signed for the Moorenders in the summer but he has just qualified as a junior doctor and is working between 70 and 80 hours a week at Bradford Infimary.
Joe Gioti also returned to the club but work commitments prevented him featuring in the pre-season games.
He had a run out with the Kestrels last week and again will feature for the second string, who travel to Sheffield tomorrow.
It is interesting to note that of the seven opening matches that were played in North One East last week, 314 points were scored, at an average of almost 48-per-game. It promises to be an entertaining division this season.
1stXV v Sheffield, kick off 3pm, meet 1.30pm: D Wilkinson, R Hayden, M Woodhead, P Murphy, J Wilson, I Gordon, O Depledge, P Turner, S Wprsley, A Piper, G Turton, J Sergeant, R Piercy, E Chappelow, R Piper. Replacements: C Piper, C Holland, M Piper.
Kestrels at Sheffield, kick off 3pm, meet 12.15pm: P Horrigan, C Blackburn, D Ashton, G Lamb, A Stanley, J Toulson, M Fletcher, B Thrower, A Lowe, D Furniss, M Beasty, J Gioti, S Quinn, B Depledge, N Clayton. Replacements: M Sergeant, L Beasty, R Bennett, A Edwards.
3rdXV at Roundhegians, kick off 3pm, meet 1.30pm: D Burton, A Smith, S SMith, D Webb, P Crowther, J Duggan, S Womersley, L Goldthorpe, A Porritt, S Roberts, A Womersley, M Wood, J Porritt, J Summers, M Terry. Replacements: L Ashley, R Simpson, M Smith.