An 86th minute converted penalty try ripped victory from Cleckheaton’s grasp after terrific effort at National League Three North leaders Sheffield last Saturday.
The Moorenders were left ruing their indiscipline, which led to three players being sin-binned at different times in the game and also contributed to all Sheffield’s points.
After an evenly contested opening 15 minutes, Ronan Evans, getting his first start at stand-off, broke Sheffield’s line and threw out a long pass to Lee Queeley, who rounded his opposite winger for a try in the corner. Evans added the touchline conversion.
Cleckheaton’s defence was in fine form, showing plenty of urgency and any attacks Sheffield made were soon repelled but Jonny France did get the visitors on the board with a penalty.
Cleckheaton added to their tally when the front row of Paul Turner, James Crowther and Andy Piper disrupted a Sheffield scrum and Jack Bickerdike scooped up the loose ball and sprinted over for an unconverted try.
Richard Piper was sin binned after a melee following the try but Cleckheaton looked good value with a 12-3 half-time lead.
Man-of-the-match Jack Seddon had a fine game but Cleck’s pack gave away numerous penalties and Turner was sin-binned amidst the flurry of indiscretions.
France reduced the arrears with another penalty before Cleck were returned to their full compliment.
The visitors were given the field position and momentum for winger, Joe McHale, to squeeze in at the corner. France added the extras to give Sheffield the lead for the first time at 13-12.
Cleckheaton hit back with determination as Sheffield were on the receiving end of the whistle.
After a line-out catch and drive in Sheffield’s 22 was illegally felled, Cleckheaton opted for a quick tap and set up a rolling maul. Ryan Piercy muscled his way over for the try and Evans converted.
The game and the points looked to be in the bag when Tom Austin put in a massive hit to turnover possession mid-way inside Cleckheaton’s half.
Unfortunately the ball was put out on the full from the resulting scrum and Sheffield were gifted possession deep in Cleckheaton territory.
Impregnable scrambling defence seemed to be keeping Sheffield at bay but in their desperation Cleckheaton were deemed guilty of not releasing the tackled player and Austin picked up their third yellow card.
With the 80 minutes up, Sheffield opted for a scrum and after four more penalties and re-scrummages, the referee lost patience and awarded a penalty try. The easy conversion, which was also the last play, deflated the Cleckheaton team and their supporters as it gave the visitors a 20-19 win.
The match was a lesson in how the conceding of penalties can hand a game to the opposition, despite how well Cleckheaton had played.
The Moorenders defence was top drawer for the majority of the match but victories seem hard to come by and they face a crucial match away to Stockport on Saturday (kick off 2.15pm).