CLECKHEATON are set to welcome a familiar figure back to the pack when Mark Sergeant makes his first start of the season against Durham City at Moorend tomorrow (3pm), writes Trevor Watson.
Sergeant, who became a father during the summer, has not been available this time but came on as a second-half substitute at Wheatley Hills last Saturday and made a difference against a sizeable pack.
He was due to train with the squad last night and then go into the starting line-up. His presence means that Ryan Piercy, who has been in the back row so far, will add his experience in the second row alongside James Sergeant.
Coach Dave Harrison explained: “We looked much better when Mark came on, he adds aggression to the pack, which has been a bit lacking, and he has good pace but he obviously needs to improve his match fitness. We have had Matt Beasty and Nick Holland in the second row and it’s asking a lot for two teenagers to regularly compete against players with a good deal of hardened experience.
“They have worked tremendously hard but need to step down at times. Hopefully they can go into the Kestrels, play the full 80 minutes, and relax, enjoy and develop their game and they are due to play at Pontefract tomorrow.
“Matt and Nick are two of the players we shall be relying on in the coming seasons to provide the basis of our pack. They are learning fast and, looking at some of the other younger players, the future is very bright for some years to come.
“At the moment we are lacking some senior players through long-term injuries and others being unavailable, so we are playing a largely young team and the lads are having to adjust. But they are making progress and that is the aim of the club. The new chairman Neil Gillan, who is a recent former player, understands that, which is a big help and the players appreciate his presence.”
Stand-off Iain Gordon, who scored all 10 points at Wheatley Hills last weekend, could now be available on a more regular basis after changing his job and this should help settle the team as he is a good talker and organiser.
Skipper Paul Turner and battled hard against a hefty set of forwards last weekend. With Pete Murphy going well at centre and now with Gordon set to play more often, things should improve on the results front.
Cleckheaton are among a group of six clubs separated by four points in mid-table and a win tomorrow would take them above Durham, who are just a couple of points ahead of them.
Already the regulars at Moorend are looking forward to the home game on October 29 against local rivals Old Brodleians, who have made a flying start to the campaign with four successive wins to be the only team unbeaten after four games and top the table.
With off-field functions planned it promises to be a big day at Moorend boosted by a large and enthusiastic crowd, for both teams.
1st XV v Durham City, ko 3pm, meet 1.30pm: R Hayden, J Wilson, M Piper, P Murphy, M Woodhead, I Gordon, O Depledge, P Turner, S Worsley, C Piper, R Piercy, J Sergeant, M Sergeant, E Chappelow, R Piper. Reps: D Furniss, D Wilkinson, G Turton.
Kestrels, at Pontefract, ko 3pm, meet 1pm: T Brook, L Queeley, T Crew, G Lamb, C Blackburn, J Toulson, M Fletcher, B Thrower, R Motlib, L Goldthorpe, M Beasty, N Holland, N Clayton, A Bullen, J Gioti. Reps: R Bennett, M Holdsworth, L Ashley, W Denham.
3rd XV v Baildon 2nds, ko 3pm, meet 2.15pm: S Womersley, M Smith, T Holmes, J Ward, J Firth, J Duggan, R Noble, A Corfield, A Porritt, S Roberts, M Wood, C Mason, J Porritt, R Simpson, M Terry. Reps: C Lingard, S Crawshaw.
4th XV at Old Brods, ko 3pm, meet 2pm: D Burton, A Ellis, A CLark, S Smith, A Brown, B Womersley, A Robinson, M Blakeley, F Loker, A Womersley, J Womersley, I Webb, D Webb, M Nicholson, R Oldroyd. Reps: S Fletcher, A Tilby-Baxter, B Thornton.