Cleckheaton slip to league defeat despite fine late rally

Josh Malkinson rises to win a line-out for Cleckheaton.
Josh Malkinson rises to win a line-out for Cleckheaton.

Cleckheaton slipped to a 19-14 defeat at home to Stockport in dark and dismal weather conditions at Moorend last Saturday.

Renewed determination in the latter stages of the match helped Cleckheaton claim a bonus point in their fight against relegation from National Three North.

Stockport sparked the scoreboard into life when confusion over who was taking a high kick resulted in the ball bouncing straight into the hands of Jordan Simpson, who sprinted between the posts and Ashley Platt-Hughes converted.

The visitors extended their lead when Cleckheaton’s pack dropped off a couple of tackles on the visiting No8, who off load for teammate Callum McMahon to score.

The conversion was missed but Cleckheaton were 12-0 down.

The Moorenders started to get into the game and pressure from the forwards led to a scrum infringement inside Stockport’s own 22.

Good awareness and a quick tap penalty from Jack Bickerdike to Matt Piper created a chance and a long pass from the centre found Josh Hall to score Cleckheaton’s first try. Ronan Evans slotted over the conversion.

In the remaining minutes of the first period Cleckheaton continued in the ascendency but were let down by unforced handling errors and Stockport retained their 12-7 lead up to half-time.

Cleckheaton were hoping to continue where they left off in the second half but put the ball out on the full from the re-start only for Stockport to then knock on.

The visiting stand-off was having a fine kicking game forcing Cleckheaton back to their own 22.

From one such kick to touch, Stockport were able to turn over a line-out and Ben Marshland went in for their third try. Platt-Hughes added the extras.

Cleckheaton were down but not out and as the two sides tussled for possession tempers flared and disagreements broke out, resulting in a player from each side being sin-binned.

The game was not back underway for long before a second interruption, after the referee went over on his ankle and had to have 10 minutes treatment from a physio before he could continue .

As the weather conditions worsened and darkness began to draw in, Cleckheaton brightened up for the last 10 minutes of the match.

Excellent marauding forward play, with Ryan Piercy and Paul Turner putting in forceful stints, put Stockport on the back foot and as Cleck’s forwards were about to touch down an infringement sent the referee between the posts for a penalty try.

Evans converted but Cleckheaton ran out of time as Stockport held on to claim a crucial win.