NORTHERN continue to hold the hoodoo over Cleckheaton and sealed a 23-12 victory in a North East One game which they led from the start.
An early penalty goal attempt by Iain Gordon drifted narrowly wide, before Northern registered the first points with a penalty of their own.
Northern’s pack were testing Cleck in the scrum and the task was made harder by the early loss of the experienced Grant Turton, who suffered a broken thumb, which required an operation and he will be sidelined until the new year.
Cleckheaton’s woes were increased after 20 minutes when Jonathan Marshall was sin-binned for being off-side on his own goal line but the visitors weathered the storm.
Cleck then had the advantage of numbers when Marshall returned and Northern’s lock was also yellow carded and was lucky not to see red after loudly voicing his opinion of the decision to the referee.
Cleck were unable to make the advantage pay and Northern secured a five-metre line-out and a catch and drive saw the No8 score to put them 8-0 up.
Cleckheaton hit back after the break when Gordon’s kick through ricocheted off two defenders and James Wilson picked up the ball to score.
Northern extended their lead with a try in the left corner following a well executed kick and chase. The conversion attempt hit a post but the home side led 13-5.
Cleckheaton responded in excellent fashion with a great try of their own.
Ollie Akroyd took a quick tap penalty and broke from his own ‘22.
After making 30 metres he passed to Wilson who cut infield and set up a ruck. Quick hands across the backs gave Ross Hayden space for a jinking run and won a five metre scrum.
Bickerdike, Gordon and Matt Piper combined to put Johnno Marshall through between the posts. The conversion reduced Northern’s lead to 13-12.
Northern extended their advantage via a drop goal but Cleckheaton were still very much in the game.
With five minutes left, Cleck were pushing hard at Northern’s line and were threatening to score.
Unfortunately the ball was spilled and Northern’s speedy winger gathered it, and with excellent support from his loose-head prop and open side flanker, Northern went almost the full length of the field for the decisive try.
Cleckheaton are still looking for their first win at Northern since the two sides re-started playing each other three seasons ago.
The first team have no game this Saturday but are planning to train and hold a team building event before watching the Kestrels, who continued their winning ways last week with a 29-10 victory over Yarnbury as Craig Blackburn scored two tries, while there was one each from Mark Sergeant and Carl Mason.