Team Northumbria 20
On their first visit to Bullocksteads Cleckheaton gained a well merited draw which earned them two points and the retention of fourth place in North East One.
However it could have been so much more. The talented students had pace to burn in their outside backs but the visitors’ well-drilled defensive line was rarely breached.
Northumbria full-back Ash missed with his first attempt at goal in the fiftth minute, but the lively Cleckheaton pack exerted pressure and from good line-out possession from Ryan Piercy, Ed Chappelow was awarded the try following an excellent drive from the whole pack. Iain Gordon was wide with the conversion.
Steve Worsley gained two strikes against the head for the visitors, his job was made easier by Cleckheaton’s superiority in this area.
However, Cleckheaton’s robust play around the ruck and in the tackle was not to the referee’s liking and a string of penalties resulted.
Northumbria countered and centre Goodwin, a member of the Scottish Sevens squad, burst through for a try which was converted by Ash, who added a further penalty on the stroke of half-time.
Ash extended the home side’s lead early in the second half with another penalty.
Cleckheaton soon hit back when centre Pete Murphy offloaded out of contact to feed winger Mitch Ashworth who scored a good try wide out after cutting inside to wrong foot the defence. Iain Gordon missed the conversion but was successful 10 minutes later with a penalty to level the scores.
It was Cleckheaton who finished the stronger and looked the fitter of the two sides.
As the game entered the last quarter both sides launched all-out attacks and a try from scrum-half Blyth converted by Ash gave the home side the advantage.
Cleckheaton responded well with an excellent solo try from full-back Jonathon Marshall. A conversion by Iain Gordon left the honours even at the final whistle.
On balance a draw and a share of the points was a fair reflection of the play between two committed sides.