Cleckheaton put in a much improved performance in their first home game of this season’s National 3 North campaign, beating Wirral 37-20.
Wirral took an early lead with a penalty goal from skipper Craig Harvey but this was quickly returned when Ross Hayden posted the first three of the afternoon for Cleckheaton.
It was Rob Afoa-Peterson though who opened Cleck’s try account, the back rower danced through a would-be tackle to go over to the right of the sticks. Hayden converting.
With Wirral on the back foot, quick hands from Jarrad Toulson and Lee Queeley found Ross Hayden out wide and two sublime steps, leaving defenders flat-footed, gave the full-back his first try. Cleckheaton were reduced to 14 men shortly after the break when a careless tackle by James Wilson caught his opponent high and the referee issued a yellow card.
In the next 10 minutes Wirral went on to score two tries and close the deficit.
The anxiety was short-lived as smart work from Jack Bickerdike found Martin Woodhead in acres of space on the left wing and the try put Cleckheaton back in front.
Ross Hayden completed Cleckheaton’s try scoring and claimed his own hat-trick with six minutes left after Lee Queeley went close and an attempted strip propelled the ball just above head height, which Hayden seized upon for the team’s fifth try of the afternoon. Toulson added the extras.
Cleckheaton face Sale this weekend if what will be the biggest game of their season so far.