Cleckheaton’s nine-match winning streak in North One East came to an end as they were edged out 16-12 in a thrilling encounter against Northern.
Cleck were dominant in the set pieces but in the 20th minute speedy Northern winger, Dom Fawcett, produced an excellent step and cut back through to sprint 30 metres and score. Ed Cockroft converted.
Cleck’s forwards made ground into the Northern ’22 and clever interplay allowed winger James Wilson to barge through and score. Iain Gordon converted to make it 7-7 at the break.
Five minutes into the second half Cleck were reduced to 14 men as a forward was sin-binned for retaliation after his side were awarded a penalty.
Cleck became increasingly frustrated by their inability to finish off promising approach work and Northern took the opportunity to escape and Cockroft landed two penalties to give Northern a six point lead.
With 10 minutes left, Northern conceded a penalty and Cleck opted for their favoured catch and drive line-out and no8 Richard Piper scored his 27th try of the season but Gordon’s attempted conversion slid across the face of the posts.
Cleck remained in the Northern 22 and attacked with vigour but were frustrated by a series of penalties for not releasing in the tackle.
With time running out Northern were penalised but surprisingly Cleck elected to go for goal, rather than the catch and drive, but the normally reliable Gordon, pulled the kick just wide.
It was not to be Cleck’s day, and in injury time a penalty decision was overturned and Cockroft kicked the goal as the final whistle sounded.