Cleckheaton climb to third after derby win

Cleckheaton's Matt Piper attempts to set up an attack against Morley's Josh Gretrix and Will Smyth in last Saturday's derby. 'Picture: Paul Butterfield
Cleckheaton's Matt Piper attempts to set up an attack against Morley's Josh Gretrix and Will Smyth in last Saturday's derby. 'Picture: Paul Butterfield

Cleckheaton secured a 44-24 derby triumph over Morley last Saturday as they moved up to third place in National Three North.

A sizeable crowd were in attendance at Moorend and witnessed Cleckheaton maintain their impressive form following the previous week’s emphatic win over Stockport.

Cleckheaton welcomed Lee Queeley and Jack Bickerdike for their first games of the season and took the lead when Ross Hayden out-paced his opposite number and squeezed in at the corner.

Ronan Evans extended Cleckheaton’s lead when landed a 30 metre penalty goal.

Morley intercepted a pass and after chipping through, Richard Knowles won the race to touch down.

It proved only brief respite as Matt Piper and Danny Vento helped Cleckheaton win a scrum 10 metres out.

Richard Piper controlled the ball at the back before scrum half Neil Chivers picked up and forced his way over. Evans converted.

Hayden was on the end of a sweeeping move to score an unconverted try at the corner on the stroke of half-time as Cleckheaton led 20-5.

Cleckheaton introduced Niall Jackson but they were wary as Morley had overcome a similar deficit against Ilkley the previous week.

A comeback here looked less likely as a kick through from Josh Hall and a determined chase saw Cleckheaton earn a five metre scrum.

Richard Piper again controlled the ball well as Cleckdrove forward. In desperation the Morley front row stood up and the referee had no choice but to pull out a yellow card.

Pressure mounted on the Morley defence until Richard Piper eventually picked up from the back of a third scrum and proved unstoppable from close range.

Luke Pearson, who is showing maturity beyond his years, caught the ball from the re-start and put Cleckheaton straight on the front foot and after Neil Chivers went close, Tom Austin recycled the ball quickly and shot over the line.

Evans’ successful conversion saw Cleckheaton increase their advantage to 34-5.

With James Wilson carrying a shoulder injury he left the field to allow Bickerdike to enter the fray.

Cleckheaton continued to press and looked much more dynamic than they have in recent seasons.

Morley countered well with two tries from Harrison Bayliss as Cleckheaton eased off the pace but the home side’s healthy advantage was restored when Hayden won the race chasing a chip through and went in for a well taken hat-trick.

Tom Austin crossed for his second try and Cleckheaton’s seventh, when Chivers put him in space 10 metres out and he raced over to score between the posts, with Evans adding another conversion.

Morley were well beaten but never gave up and were rewarded with an 80th minute score for Karl Bradshaw which earned them a try scoring bonus point.