Late lapse proves costly as Cleckheaton held to a draw
Cleckheaton had to settle for claiming two points National League Three North after they were held to a 22-22 draw on the 3G pitch at Burnage.
The Moorenders will feel they should have returned with victory as they led 22-14 going into the final 10 minutes only to concede an unconverted try and then allow Burnage to equalise with a penalty from the last kick of the game.
Burnage opened the scoring with an Adam Knight penalty after three minutes but Cleckheaton responded when a high kick from father to be, Michael Piper, bounced into the hands of the leaping Danny Vento for a simple try. Ross Hayden added the extras.
Poor discipline gave Burnage easy field position and another three points via a second penalty goal, while Ben Thrower was sin binned.
Still down to 14 men, a touch of class from Hayden saw the full-back glide through the Burnage three quarter line for Cleckheaton’s second try.
The conversion attempt drifted wide but Hayden added a penalty goal just before half time to give the visitors a 15-6 lead at the break.
Cleckheaton kicked the ball out on the full at the start of the second half and then went on to concede a number of penalties, which strained their composure.
Tempers flared and there was a bout of fisticuffs, which resulted in Burnage having a man sin-binned.
A break from centre, Stuart Oldham, for a long range try put the home side back in the game, while another Knight penalty reduced the arrears to 15-14.
Cleckheaton looked to have regained control when Lee Queeley tip-toed down the touch line following good handling from Jack Bickerdike and Rob Afoa Peterson, for a try in the corner.
Man-of-the-match Hayden converted to put the Moorenders two scores in front at 22-14 with less than 10 minutes remaining.
Calm heads would surely have seen the game out with a victory but it wasn’t to be.
More ill discipline and infringements gave Burnage impetus and inside centre, Knight, charged in for an unconverted try.
With only seconds remaining, Cleckheaton nervously defended a scrum and conceded tap penalty close to their line before a further penalty, deemed to be the last play by the referee, was slotted through the posts by Burnage to land them a 22-22 draw.
Cleckheaton will be disappointed in how they let this game slip away.
Their line-out was under pressure yet again and confidence seems to have slipped in this area.
They must return their ficus to playing the good rugby shown earlier in the season when they host Sheffield Tigers on Saturday, when a more composed performance with be needed to prevent the threat of a mauling.