Cleckheaton secure derby win at emotional Moorend

Cleckheaton players and supporters pay their respects to president Alan Bentley, with a minute's silence before last Saturday's National League Three North derby against Huddersfield YMCA.
Cleckheaton players and supporters pay their respects to president Alan Bentley, with a minute's silence before last Saturday's National League Three North derby against Huddersfield YMCA.
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Cleckheaton ended their hoodoo against Huddersfield YMCA and dedicated last Saturday’s 24-17 win to president Alan Bentley.

This was Cleckheaton first team’s first game since Mr Bentley passed away and a number of tributes were paid to the Moorend stalwart.

The Cleckheaton playing squad and coaching team briefly joined 140 guests at a pre-lunch to hear a eulogy to Mr Bentley, before taking part in a minute’s applause to celebrate the tremendous work he did for the club.

A minute’s silence was also observed prior to the kick off of the National League Three derby.

YMCA inflicted Cleck’s only two defeats of last season’s Championship winning campaign and claimed a home victory back in October.

The melancholy of the day was lifted 10 minutes into the match when Cameron Burnhill flicked a loose pass off the floor with his foot into his arms, before putting Martin Woodhead one on one with his opposite number.

The Cleckheaton winger powered over for the try and Ross Hayden added the touchline conversion.

YMCA attempted to hit back but could find no way through the defence of Richard Piper, Rob Afoa Peterson, Paul Turner and Carl Mason and had to settle for a penalty.

Excellent work by forwards Jack Seddon, Ben Thrower and Ollie Akroyd made in roads before Alex Dawson powered his way over to put Cleck 12-3 ahead at half-time.

YMCA changed their strip to provide sharper contrast to Cleckheaton’s cherry and white and it gave them new impetus and an early try, reducing the deficit to 12-10.

Cleckheaton’s fabled catch and drive sprang into action following a long touch finding kick from Michael Piper.

The momentum took Richard Piper over for the try, which Hayden converted.

Huddersfield tried to mount several counter-attacks but were thwarted, with Matt Piper’s tactical kicks pinning them back.

Cleckheaton extended their lead and claimed a try scoring bonus point following a kick downfield.

Jack Bickerdike took the catch and fed James Wilson, who combined with Hayden to set up field position.

A long pass from Bickerdike and a pin-point cross-field kick from Mike Piper was pounced upon at the edge of the in-goal area by Burnhill. Hayden again landing the conversion.

With a minute remaining, YMCA scored a consolation try between the posts with the simple conversion earning themselves a potentially valuable losing bonus point.

It was a fitting Cleckheaton performance on an emotional day, with skipper Richard Piper dedicating the win to Alan Bentley and to finally break the YMCA hoodoo, would have made the former president very pleased indeed.

Huddersfield could claim some joy as the seven-point defeat meant the scores across both games this season were level and YMCA retain the coveted John Bower trophy.