Cleckheaton prevail to climb out of drop zone

Cleckheaton's Richard Piper produces a strong run out of defence against Stockport. Picture: Gerald Christian.
Cleckheaton's Richard Piper produces a strong run out of defence against Stockport. Picture: Gerald Christian.

Cleckheaton gained an important 22-17 victory away to Stockport as they climbed out of the National Three North relegation zone last Saturday.

It was an assured away display by Cleck as their pack got the upper hand on the home side with the front three of Paul Turner, Mark Chivers and Andy Piper supporting Ryan Piercy and Luke Pearson.

A 10th minute penalty gave Cleckheaton chance to test their favoured catch and drive move as Richard Piper was driven over from the back of the maul to score. Ronan Evans converted.

A loose pass gifted Stockport possession and they replied with an Oli Longmore try, converted by Jonny Edwards.

Cleckheaton hit back when a perfectly timed pass from Matt Piper threaded centre partner, James Wilson, through a hole and he raced 20 metres to score between the posts, with Evans converting.

Cleckheaton’s forwards continued to have the upper hand and Richard Piper crossed for his second try following another catch and drive and Cleckheaton held a 19-7 half-time lead.

Stockport upped the ante at the start of the second period but formidable goal line defence from Cleckheaton kept the home team from scoring.

Jack Seddon and Tom Austin thwarted Stockport’s progress when they were slow to recycle ball, while Ben Thrower and Danny Graham added fresh legs from the bench.

Stockport made a number of half breaks causing tension in Cleckheaton’s travelling support but solid defence and cover tackling by wingmen Brad Marsden and Martin Woodhead, ensured that these were not converted into points.

The half remained scoreless until the hour mark when Cleckheaton were awarded a penalty 35 metres out and Evans put his team 15 points ahead with a well struck goal.

Stockport continued to work hard, culminating in a try for Jordan Simpson, which Edwards converted.

Cleckheaton were reduced to 14 men due to a sin-binning with only nine minutes to play but while Stockport threw the ball around with great vigour, they could not break down the Moorenders’ defence.

When the referee awarded a penalty in the closing seconds, the home team opted for a kick at goal, which Edwards duly converted, reducing Cleckheaton’s lead to 22-17 and landing Stockport the consolation of a losing bonus point.

But it was not enough to deny Cleckheaton victory and, coupled with local rivals Huddersfield YMCA losing at home to Burnage, it gave the Moorenders a vital boost and sees the team rise out of the relegation zone

Another win away at Rossendale in Cleckheaton’s game in hand this Saturday would cement their bid for safety.

If the team play with the same effort and determination as they showed at Stockport, then the club could enjoy a very happy Easter.