CLECKHEATON came agonisingly close to earning a draw at Sheffield in North One East when an injury time conversion attempted drifted just the wrong side of the posts.
Cleckheaton travelled to Abbeydale Park determined to improve the defensive effort that was on display in the corresponding home fixture in early September.
In that game the men from South Yorkshire claimed a try-scoring bonus point as part of their 34-5 victory.
This game was to be a very different affair and while the Moorenders only scored one try, as in the first game, their defence was solid for all but 20 seconds when Sheffield slipped in for their solitary try.
Sheffield had the lion’s share of the possession and territory and pressurised Cleckheaton from the outset. A missed shot at goal was all that the home side had to show for this as Cleckheaton worked hard to repel the onslaught before making some determined forays into the home side’s half.
Neither side could break down the defence and play became fractious with Chris Piper and Sheffield tight head Ramzey Adamo both spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin.
Iain Gordon put Cleckheaton ahead with a well struck penalty and despite Ollie Akroyd winning a couple of Sheffield lineouts in their 22, Cleck got very few other scoring opportunities in the first half.
The visitors retained their three point advantage until two minutes before half-time when Sheffield kicked their way up field courtesy of a string of penalties and set up a strong position to attack.
Cleckheaton were manful in their defence but as it looked like had survived, a hand-off from centre Chris Dale unlocked the defence for him to dive over for a try. Pearson converted and Sheffield led 7-4 at half-time.
The second period continued much like the first, with defences on top and the play punctuated by infringements and the referee’s whistle, which saw Sheffield land two penalties, sandwiched between another goal from Gordon.
As the game wore on the Moorenders’ determination drove them forward. A clean catch and drive just inside the opposition 22 set up a rolling maul from which it appeared inevitable that a trademark Richard Piper try would follow.
Sheffield they managed to stop this drive but Robin Bennett was on hand to gather the ball and spin in the opposite direction to wriggle his way over the line.
With the game now in injury time Gordon lined up his conversion attempt knowing that success would level the scores. Agonisingly for Cleck, the kick drifted to the left of the posts before the referee blew for full-time.
There is no first-team game on Saturday as Cleckheaton will put out a full strength side against Old Brodleians in their traditional Boxing Day fixture at Hipperholme.
Cleck return to league action on Saturday January 5, when Old Crossleyans visit Moorend.
n Cleckheaton Under-16s suffered a 32-10 defeat to local rivals Old Brodleians.
Brods scored twice early on but Cleck responded well and after good work by Charlie Humphreys and Kieran Dawson, Joe Roberts drove over for a try and Mikey Bray converted as the visitors trailed 12-10 at half-time.
Oliver Clark tackled well but an injury forced Cleckheaton to restructure and Brods took full advantage to score four tries.
Ben Leitch had a busy game at full-back and Liam Wright produced several good kicks.
Dalton Yates was Cleckheaton’s MoM, while Joe Humphreys, Ed Maw, Kyle Wright and Ryan Mergatroyd went close to pulling a consolation try back but the Brods defence held firm.
n Cleckheaton Under-14s suffered a 17-5 defeat away to Old Brods.
n Cleckheaton Junior Colts defeated Halifax 34.12, while Middlesbrough were unable to raise a team to play against the Lambs, who gained a walkover.