Crucial decisions go against Cleck

Rugby Union: Cleckheaton v Wheatley Hills at Cleckheaton Sports Club. (Cleckheaton are in the red and white kit). Dave Freeman collects the ball. (d09011261)
Rugby Union: Cleckheaton v Wheatley Hills at Cleckheaton Sports Club. (Cleckheaton are in the red and white kit). Dave Freeman collects the ball. (d09011261)

Cleckheaton 15

Wheatley Hills 22

CLECKHEATON were left to rue two refereeing decisions as they suffered defeat at home to Wheatley Hills in North One East last Saturday.

The Moorenders had started slowly but battled back well to reduce the arrears to five points.

They dominated the latter stages of the first half and appeared to have levelled the match at 15-15 with a try. However the referee was unsighted and did not award the score.

Although the Moorenders played better after the break, Hills built up a seven-point lead before a second crucial decision went against the Moorenders in the final five minutes.

Cleckheaton’s leading scorer Richard Piper was sent clear and looked to be heading towards the posts for his second try of the afternoon only for play to be pulled back for an earlier infringement, denying them chance to kick for a draw.

Promotion-chasing Wheatley Hills started well and had Cleckheaon on the back foot for much of the first quarter.

The visitors took a 15th minute lead when Jack Craswell broke and fed former Sheffield Eagles rugby league player Johnny Woodcock. The full-back charged 40 metres before sending centre Mickey Hayward in for the try.

Winger Ryan Richardson then put scrum-half Ian Barker to stretch Hills’ lead, following a good passing move, before the pacy Hayward beat two defenders for his second try.

Fly-half Jack Crasswell struggled with the blustery conditions and was unable to add conversions to any of his side’s three tries but Hills looked in control at 15-0.

Cleckheaton full-back Jonno Marshall was back to his best and he was given space late in the first half to race over for a try and the Moorenders’ leading points scorer Iain Gordon landed an excellent touchline goal.

Gordon also added a penalty to make it 15-10 and things could have improved further had a second try been awarded.

Cleckheaton continued to press at the start of the second half and they were rewarded when top try scorer Richard Piper was driven over line and managed to plant the ball down under a host of bodies for his 11th score of the season, which levelled matters.

There was real hope that the Moorenders would go on to win the game and both sides created further chances.

However, with five minutes to go, Hills scored the decisive try when a missed tackle gave them good field position and replacement prop Sam Kerry dived over and Woodcock converted.

Cleckheaton battled on and would have snatched a deserved draw had captain Richard Piper not being pulled back having broken through.

The Moorenders had to settle for a bonus point from the game, which leaves them ninth in the table ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Durham City, while Wheatley Hills have moved up to second, six points off leaders Billingham.

Dave, ‘Lofty’ Freeman lives up to his nickname as he leaps above the Wheatley Hills defence to gather a line-out in last Saturday’s clash. (d09011261)

Pictures: Jake Oakley.