Durham City 13
CLECKHEATON produced a powerful second half performance at Moorend to sweep aside Durham and maintain their challenge near the top of North Two East.
Five tries also brought a bonus point while strong defence after the break kept the visitors well in check.
After the enforced weather break of the last few weeks this was a highly entertaining contest between two sides, who were willing to take risks despite poor conditions.
Ultimately Cleckheaton ran out convincing winners because of their clinical finishing and determined defence.
Iain Gordon opened the scoring for the home side with a penalty but in the fifth minute Cleckheaton lost their big ball-winning lock Dave Freeman with a dislocated shoulder.
However, the re-shuffled pack increased their resolve and from a driving maul hooker Steve Worsley scored the game’s first try, with Gordon adding a superb conversion five metres in from touch.
City came more into the game at this point and much to their credit began to dominate territory, despite playing into a strong wind.
Scrum-half Jeff Roberts reduced the arrears with a penalty and 10 minutes later, Durham centre Richard Knowles was put through a gap following a period of pressure for a try which Roberts converted.
With the scores level as half-time approached the game appeared evenly balanced and the visitors had the chance to take the lead with a penalty but Roberts was wide with his effort.
From the ‘22 restart Cleckheaton took possession and the forwards, with Danny Furness and Ryan Piercey to the fore, drove in field to create a workable blindside move.
Scrum-half Ollie Depledge fed elusive wingman Ross Hayden who broke up the touchline. He in turn fed the ball back inside for the supporting Depledge to beat the full-back and finish the move with an excellent try which was converted by Gordon.
The visitors remained competitive and were first to score in the second half with a penalty by Roberts.
However, on the hour mark the game took a decisive turn in the direction of Cleckheaton when winger Martin Woodhead scored a good try wide out.
Further tries in quick succession from Ed Chappelow and a second from Woodhead along with one Gordon conversion put the game firmly in Cleckheaton’s possession, and earned them another five points to keep the pressure on the league’s top two teams.
The signs are good that Cleckheaton will be in the promotion mix at the end of the season and as confidence grows so does the team’s reputation among their opponents, who will be very wary of meeting the Moorenders in the second half of the campaign.