Win sees Kestrels clinch Merit title

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Cleckheaton Kestrels 36

Dinnington 3

The Kestrels sealed the Yorkshire Merit title with a convincing win last Saturday.

They have made great strides under the tutelage of coach Gordon Piper and have lost just three league games all season.

Injuries and unavailability left the 1st XV short of seven regulars, resulting in call-ups for Mark Fletcher, Gareth Lamb, Craig Blackburn, James Wilson, Danny Graham and Carl Mason. As a result the Kestrels gave debuts to Tom Holmes and Matty Smith, who both acquitted themselves well, welcomed back Joe Massarella from his nine months in Holland and called up Joff Ward from the the Thirds.

Cleckheaton were not going to underestimate Dinnington in such an important game and rightly so, as the visitors started vigourously. However, it was not long before Cleckheaton gained territorial advantage and started to press Dinnington’s line.

Nathan Clayton went close as did Ben Thrower, Ricky Motlib, Luke Bashforth, Nick Holland and Andy Edwards, before Simon Quinn broke free and stretched out at full length for an unconverted try.

Dinnington replied with a penalty but Cleckheaton hit back as Quinn fed Neil Gillan, who evaded two tacklers, before sprinting over for a try which Toulson converted.

Quinn touched down again and Toulson added the goal and he was on target again soon after to convert his own try after a quick dart to the line to make it 26-3.

The second half started with some pushing and shoving, which resulted in Grant Turton and a Dinnington back rower receiving yellow cards. Cleckheaton continued to dominate, with Sam Sessions impressing, before Adam Stanley dived in at the left corner for an unconverted try while a fine pass from Ollie Depledge put Aiden Bullen through for his 10th try of the season.

Dinnington put up a brave fight in the last 15 minutes but the Cleck defence held firm and the title was in the bag.

n A weakened Cleckheaton first team lost 49-5 at West Hartlepool. Martin Woodhead scored his seventh try in the last three games as the hosts were crowned champions.