Cleckheaton aim to cause an upset
By Trevor Watson
A TOTAL of 11 league points from the last three games has galvanised Cleckheaton and they go to Middlesbrough tomorrow (3pm) hopeful of another upset in National Three North.
The recent run has justified the confidence shown by coaches and club officials in the earlier part of the season when anything that could go wrong appeared to do so. But there was always the feeling that the basics were being done in the right way and the club was building successfully, all that was needed was some success for the first XV.
Little wonder there was considerable satisfaction at the victory over Beverley, which also brought the first try bonus point of the campaign, and has given the Moorenders a realistic chance of avoiding relegation when the situation seemed almost hopeless not so long ago.
There was a great cause for satisfaction from the men in the engine room of the pack that the team gained a pushover try last Saturday.
Coach Dave Harrison said: “It was a massive effort against such a big set of forwards, the lads showed a lot of patience and a great deal of control and afterwards (captain and prop) Paul Turner was delighted at the achievement.
“The big feature was that the team stuck to the game plan and did the things we had been working on in training. When we were seeking the fourth try for the bonus point, they didn’t panic and gained their reward late on. Carl Mason took the man-of-the-match award and his work-rate was absolutely outstanding.”
It is well-deserved recognition for Mason, who has played at prop or second row with equal determination this time and has never let the side down.
Harrison went on: “Ryan Piercy and Richard and Matt Piper were also top drawer and the back three are getting settled. We have named an unchanged starting line-up for tomorrow. I may tinker with the subs’ bench, but that’s all and that is a step forward.
“At least we have now given ourselves a realistic chance of avoiding the drop, which is an achievement in itself after the way things went earlier in the season.”
The coach is also happy that Ross Hayden appears to have regained his form and is playing well at full-back. It is felt one reason for this is that he no longer has to worry about the goalkicking responsibility, with Iain Gordon having taken over, and this has enabled him to concentrate on the other aspects of his game.
Hayden’s try last weekend should further lift his confidence, it was very well taken after good approach work inside and a superbly-placed grubber kick by Gordon.
Middlesbrough are a difficult side to beat on their own ground and will pose a big test but if Cleckheaton can take something from the game they could well move above Rochdale and out of the bottom three.
Already supporters are eagerly anticipating the home game against title-chasing neighbours Morley next weekend. With 250 booked in for a pre-match dinner there should be a tremendous atmosphere and Cleckheaton will feel they have an excellent chance of upsetting their rivals for the second successive season.
But first the side need points at Middlesbrough. After a win and a draw in their last two away games, the side should now be much more buoyant on their travels.
BIG band jazz returns to Cleckheaton Sports Club at the end of this month.
The Nicki Allen Sextet which includes some of the best jazz musicians in the North of England, most of whom are products of Leeds College of Music, will be appearing at the club on Thursday March 25.
Nicki is noted for her singing with the Manhattan Sound Big Band.
The evening starts at 8.30pm and admission is 5 at the door.