Cleckheaton denied first win by costly late errors

Cleckheaton's Ryan Piercy is getting back to full fitness after missing the whole of last season, although he was unable to prevent a third straightr defeat at Lymm last Saturday.
Cleckheaton's Ryan Piercy is getting back to full fitness after missing the whole of last season, although he was unable to prevent a third straightr defeat at Lymm last Saturday.

Cleckheaton appeared to be on course for their first win of the season as they led at Lymm going into the final 10 minutes last Saturday.

But late errors and inferior game management saw Cleckheaton clutch defeat from the jaws of victory and left them with a solitary bonus point from their National League Three North clash.  

Cleckheaton welcomed centre duo, Lee Queeley and Matt Piper back into the fold for their first game this season and started brightly.

Jack Bickerdike’s run was halted by a head high tackle and Cleck kicked to the corner for a 10 metre line-out.

Lymm repelled the initial drive but on the second push, Richard Piper directed the maul over the whitewash and grounded the ball. Mike Piper added the conversion.

Lymm kicked a penalty goal and, despite an excellent defence from Cleckheaton, a handling error gifted the Cheshire men possession 20 metres out.

After attacking the left, the ball was brought back quickly across field for Nolan to score in the corner giving Lymm an 8-7 lead at the break.

Cleckheaton’s discipline was a factor in the match as Lymm added a further penalty 10 minutes into the second half.

Cleckheaton upped their tempo and secured another line out close to their opponent’s line.

Despite Lymm’s best efforts to stop the drive, Ryan Piercy crashed over for an unconverted try to put the Moorenders a point in front.

New utility back Josh Hall joined the action on the wing and made an immediate impact, bundling his opposite number into touch as he was trying to ground the ball.

Cleckheaton were camped in Lymm’s half for an extended period and after the home side had a man sin-binned, Jack Seddon scored to put his side 17-11 ahead.

Cleck looked to be heading for a first win but spilled the restart and then conceded a penalty, with a quick tap allowing winger McEvoy to squeeze in at the corner. The crucial conversion sailed through the posts from the touchline and Lymm led 18-17 with three minutes left.

On the last play of the game Cleckheaton had an attacking scrum but the ball went to ground and Lymm kicked through, winning the race to the line for a third try to rub salt into Cleckheaton’s wounds.

Cleckheaton got a bonus point out of this fixture, enough to take them above this week’s opponent’s Burnage, who now have the dubious honour of propping up the league table, but this was a case of three points lost rather than a point gained.

The return of Matt Piper and Queeley, as well as the addition of Josh Hall, gives the coaching team options in the backs but Cleckheaton will be ruing their discipline.

Handling errors were also a thorn in Cleckheaton’s side but there were also positive signs as Piercy looks to be getting fitter after missing the whole of last season and Josh Malkinson carried the ball well, while the development and first team experience for teenagers Luke Pearson and Niall Jackson will set them in good stead as the season progresses.