In-form Cleckheaton seal third bonus point success

Cleckheaton Captain Richard Piper breaking out of defence against Burnage in National Three North last Saturday. 'Pictures by Gerry Christian
Cleckheaton Captain Richard Piper breaking out of defence against Burnage in National Three North last Saturday. 'Pictures by Gerry Christian

Cleckheaton claimed their third consecutive bonus point win in National Three North, overcoming Burnage 31-12 last Saturday.

Cleckheaton made a fast start and opened their account inside five minutes when Mike Piper sent Matt Piper through a gap and despite the attention of the full-back, he forced his way over by the posts and Ross Hayden converted.

A penalty put Cleck back on attack and although the strong Burnage pack were able to deny the catch and drive line-out, they couldn’t prevent James Wilson diving over from the ruck, with Hayden again converting.

Richard Piper and Tom Austin turned over possession on numerous occasions and as Cleckheaton worked their way downfield, Craig Blackburn and Hayden combined.

Hayden was held short but Matt Piper drove over and the home side led 19-0.

Burnage hit back when a foray into Cleckheaton’s ‘22 was supported by an excellent angled run from centre Danny Halliwell to race over for a converted try.

Cleckheaton responded immediately and Matt Piper again broke through and although he could have crossed for his hat-trick, the centre unselfishly sent Wilson over between the posts, with Hayden converting.

Ollie Akroyd broke early in the second half, Martin Woodhead hacked the ball on and Wilson looked to have touched down but the try was not given.

Matt Piper was sin-binned for blocking a runner from an offside position and a minute later, Rob Afoa Peterson was also yellow carded for a technical offence at a ruck as Cleckheaton were reduced to 13 men.

They defended superbly to keep Burnage out, with Lee Queeley stepping in at flanker for the defensive scrums.

Burnage created space out wide but with the line beckoning, the ball was dropped and the chance went begging.

Jack Bickerdike came off the bench for his first appearance in over a month and he set up a move which saw Cleckheaton rumble upfield.

Josh White and Tom Austin put Burnage on the back foot and after Paul Turner drove close, Wilson went over for his hat-trick.

Burnage grabbed a late consolation try but Cleckheaton out performed their opponents to maintain their unbeaten record at fortress Moorend.