Cleckhaton face crucial derby as Bees visit

Matt Piper scored a try for Cleckheaton but he wasn't able to prevent them slipping to defeat at Northern in North One East last Saturday. Picture: Paul Butterfield
Matt Piper scored a try for Cleckheaton but he wasn't able to prevent them slipping to defeat at Northern in North One East last Saturday. Picture: Paul Butterfield

Cleckheaton face a crunch derby clash when Bradford and Bingley visit Moorend on Saturday (2.15pm) as they bid to halt their slide in North One East.

The Moorenders slipped to a seventh straight league defeat last week when they were edged out 20-17 by bottom side Northern and that loss leaves them level on 39 points with the Bees and just six above the relegation zone.

Cleckheaton’s third trip in a month to the north of Newcastle returned with another defeat.

Despite the lowly league position, Northern played sufficiently well to take their chances and register a second straight win, leaving Cleckheaton to mull over a long trip back down the A1 with a solitary bonus point.

Cleckheaton were suffering an availability crisis with Barnard, Pearson, Piercy, Queeley and Wilson all unavailable, while Foulstone and Cherryholme have re-joined their rugby league teams for the start of the National Conference season.

This gave an opportunity for Cain Crotty and Matt Wood to join the starting line-up .

Craig Blackburn also earned another cap, while Rob Lowe made his first team league debut.

Cleckheaton started brightly and took the game to Northern for the first 10 minutes but it was the home side who went ahead with a penalty goal.

Cleckheaton clicked into gear and a solid platform from the forwards created the opportunity for a backs move that put Ronan Evans through a gap for the first try.

Cleckheaton conceded three successive penalties and Grant Fitzsimmons was shown a yellow card.

Northern immediately used their numerical advantage, splitting Cleck’s defence for a walk-in try from 20 metres out, which put them 10-5 up.

Cleckheaton’s 14 men hit back with a Matt Piper try, converted by Mike Swetman, but in the last minute of the first half, Northern’s winger tip-toed down the touchline for a try to give his side a 17-12 advantage at the break.

Cleckheaton missed several scoring chances after the break and Northern extended their lead with a penalty goal.

Cleckheaton gave themselves real hope when a line out close to Northern’s line was driven over by the pack and Andy Piper touched down.

Cleckheaton piled on the pressure, recycling the ball for many phases but they could not turn pressure into points and were left contemplating what might have been.