CLECKHEATON suffered a disappointing defeat at home to Northern, which keeps them looking over their shoulders at the sides below them in North One East.
The Moorenders do not have any immediate concerns as they are still 14 points clear of the relegation zone but they will not want many more performances like the one they turned in last Saturday.
Northern are now 10 points clear of third-bottom Old Crossleyans and they will have left Moorend delighted after picking up a bonus point.
The writing was on the wall when Matt Brown scored a second minute try for the visitors and although Ross Hayden replied with his 11th league try of the season to level matters, Cleckheaton were up against it for long periods.
Philip James restored Northern’s lead with a 13th minute try which Kris Borthwick converted, although Cleck fly-half Iain Gordon managed to reduce the arrears to four points with a 22th minute penalty.
Cleckheaton would have settled going into half-time trailing 12-8 but just as they were thinking about regrouping, Northern struck with a third try two minutes before the break when Alex Clark crossed and Borthwick goaled.
The Moorenders had it all to do, trailing 19-8, and they were not helped when in-form full-back Jonno Marshall went off injured after 58 minutes.
A stalemate remained for much of the second half but the introduction of substitute Simon March after 70 minutes proved decisive.
Just three minutes after coming on, March scored Northern’s fourth try and he also tagged on the goal to ensure they would be leaving with winning points.
There was still time for Cleckheaton no8 Richard Piper to extend his superb scoring record with his 17th league try of the season just a minute from time, which Gordon improved.
Piper now lies second in the North One East scoring charts, just two tries behind leading scorer Peter Evans of Billingham but it was scant consolation for a Cleckheaton side who must pick themselves up for tomorrow’s re-arranged trip to Morpeth, who are just two places below them in the table.
With eight games remaining Cleckheaton are in eighth place.