Cleckheaton denied derby win as YMCA grab late try
Cleckheaton let a crucial victory slip from their grasp as Huddersfield YMCA snatched a dramatic last minute try to take the derby spoils 32-31.
It was the third time this season Cleckheaton have lost in this manner and leaves them deep in trouble in the National League Three North relegation zone.
Cleckheaton looked to have claimed a vital win which would have taken them above YMCA but like the games away to Lymm and at home to Sheffield, concentration lapsed and the opposition snatched the points.
Simon Wilson kicked a fifth minute penalty to put YMCA ahead but Cleckheaton then began to dominate, with their forwards leading the way.
Scrum half Jack Bickerdike scooted through a gap from the back of a ruck and prop Paul Turner charged up in support to take the final pass and galop to the line. Mike Piper added the conversion.
Five minutes later, Jack Seddon gathered a pressure relieving kick and returned the ball well.
James Wilson cleared the ruck and fast hands across the rest of the back line gave Lee Queeley space to sprint to the line and ground the ball despite the desperate attentions of the last defender.
The conversation attempt hit the post but Cleckheaton had taken a 12-3 lead.
Cleckheaton’s good work was being countered yet again by the concession of too many penalties.
This was a lifeline to YMCA and gave them the possession and the field position that they were otherwise finding hard to come by.
Good passing nearly put Huddersfield in at the corner but scrambling defence kept them out momentarily before the pressure told and Wilson went in for the visitors first try, which he converted.
Cleckheaton hit back after catching YM on the back foot with some fierce forward drives and a quick tap penalty and set up a maul which Ryan Piercy steered over for a try, which Mike Piper improved.
Unfortunately Cleckheaton knocked on from the restart and a reactionary catch from a player in front of the ball gave YMCA a kick to the corner.
From the resulting line out the ball was transferred swiftly to centre field, where Adam Ryder proved too powerful to stop. Wilson added the conversion to leave the game poised with Cleckheaton 19-17 ahead at half time.
Huddersfield took the lead for the first time early in the second half when Ryder forced his way over again and Wilson converted.
YMCA conceded three consecutive penalties and Cleckheaton’s sustained attack proved too much as Richard Piper got over to restore the home side’s lead.
More hard work from the forwards and a couple of carries from Ewan Dowse and Matt Piper gave Cleckheaton good momentum.
Seddon went close before Piercy got over for his second try only for Wilson to kick a penalty goal at the other end, narrowing Cleck’s lead to just four points.
The game seemed to be leaning the Moorenders’ way when, with 90 seconds remaining, they won a penalty in front of the posts 30 metres only for Mike Piper to pull his attempt wide and it al so failed to go over the dead ball line.
A good return kick took play into Cleck’s 22 but the team seemed to have weathered the storm, when they got another penalty but inexplicably decided to tap the ball rather then running down the clock kicking for touch.
To compound the error, a long pass across the field was plucked out of the air by a YMCA interceptor.
The player was stopped short of the line but eventually YMCA won a five metre scrum.
Paul Turner was sin-binned for allegedly dropping this scrum and with a man down YM initially tried to drive forward before shipping the ball wide for Morton to score with the last action of the match.
It was another heart-breaking last minute reversal for Cleckheaton, which sucked the Christmas cheer from the players, coaches and supporters as Huddersfield YMCA grasped victory and retained the John Bower Trophy.
Cleckheaton are in a lowly position at the end of 2015 but with small improvements on game management it could still yet be a brighter new year.