Cleckheaton all set for tough derby encounter

CLECKHEATON will make the short trip to Old Crossleyans tomorrow aiming to improve on their recent poor record against sides in the lower reaches of North One East (kick-off 3pm).

Since the turn of the year, Cleckheaton have lost to bottom two sides Northern and Hartlepool Rovers, along with 10th-placed Pontefract.

Crossleyans are only running one team this season and are third-bottom. They are in real danger of being relegated but Cleckheaton coach Dave Harrison is anticipating a tough derby encounter.

“We only just beat Crossleyans at home earlier in the season and I maintain that they are still one of the best sides we have played,” he said. “If they can get their best 15 out on the field, they are capable of giving anyone a game and we will be in for a tough time unless we get the basics right.”

Last week’s entertaining 20-20 draw at Team Northumbria, leaves Cleckheaton fourth in the table, level on 57 points with Wheatley Hills but they are 18 points adrift of second-placed Percy Park.

Harrison admits a top-four finish would set things up nicely for them to make a sustained promotion challenge next season.

“When we lost two games straight after Christmas, we sat down and re-assessed what we thought was a realistic target,” he said.

“Unless the top-two have a dramatic hiccup, I think the best we can hope for is third place but that would give us a real platform to kick on for next season.”

Cleckheaton followers may well have forgotten that the club are also still involved in the Yorkshire Cup. The Moorenders defeated Pontefract 28-24 on August 26. The semi-final draw has been made amid a good deal of confusion.

Morley are set to play Hull in their delayed first round tie on March 19 with the winners travelling to Beverley in the quarter-finals. The winners of that tie will then be at home to Cleckheaton on or before April 20. The final is set for April 27.

Cleckheaton Kestrels and Thirds are hoping to play tomorrow but as yet do not have opponents after sides withdrew teams due to a lack of players.

Cleckheaton fixtures secretary Alan Bentley said it is a growing problem in the game and the club are lobbying the RFU about it. The Moorenders have made it a priority to try and field four teams while some clubs are struggling to field two. Mr Bentley added that Cleckheaton are still keen to add to their ranks and anyone who wants to play can pop down to Moorend or call the club on 01274 873410.

1st XV at Old Crossleyans, ko 3pm, meet 1pm: R Hayden, L Queeley, P Murphy, M Piper, M Ashworth, J Marshall, O Depledge, A Piper, S Worsley. P Turner, R Piercy, J Sargeant, E Chappelow, T Brook. R Piper. Reps: C Piper, G Turton, G Lamb.

Kestrels at TBA, ko 3pm: C Blackburn, M Woodhead, A Bullen, D Terry, C Davis, J Toulson, M Fletcher, N Gillan, B Thrower, C Mason, N Holland, M Beasty, L Bashforth, D Graham, S Quinn. Reps: A Stanley, R Motlib, A Edwards.

Third XV at TBA, ko 3pm: C Aspinall, R Simpson,. S Smith, M Howard, C Simpson, J Ward, R Noble, A Corfield, A Porritt, J Porritt, L Ashley, M Wood, A Lowe, S Sessions. M Terry.

Fourth XV v Ilkley III, KO 3pm, meet 2.15pm: D Burton, J Firth, D Webb, M Nicholson, A Brown, S Womersley, A Robinson, A Womersley, S Fletcher, L Goldthorpe, J Womersley, I Webb, F Loker, G Dixon. O Thompson, S Curley, S Baxter.