CLECKHEATON suffered a second home defeat in seven days when they went down 23-15 against Alnwick in North One East.
As in the previous week’s loss to West Leeds, Cleckheaton could easily have won this game as they allowed Alnwick to fight back with a late flurry of scoring on the back of mistakes.
Alnwick took an early lead via a James Bird penalty but Mike Swetman levelled with a 40 metre effort.
Determined running and good support from Alnwick, coupled with some average tackling allowed the visitors to cross in the corner for an unconverted try.
Bird then extended his side’s lead with another penalty, as Jack Seddon was sin binned for a high tackle.
Cleckheaton had scant scoring opportunities in the first half, although Mikey Hayward looked to have created in space down the right but could not get free of the final defender.
Seddon and Matt Piper carried the ball hard at every opportunity and Ryan Piercy topped the first half tackle count but Cleck trailed 11-3 at half-time.
Cleckheaton pressed at the start of the second half and after a spell of pressure, Swetman sold a dummy and glided through for a try betwen the posts which he converted.
The home team continued to gather momentum and from a scrum, Luke Pearson fed JackBickerdike, who passed behind Matt Piper and on to Swetman and he put Hayward over on the outside to give Cleck the lead with 12 minutes left.
A poor re-start gave Alnwick possession in a dangerous position and although Cleck’s defence held out, they never truly cleared their lines.
Failure to find touch gifted Alnwick another attack and from a scrum, the No8 picked up and rampaged through before off loading for the visitors’ second try.
More poor choices and lack of composure ultimately undid Cleckheaton as Alnwick went in at the corner again.
Brad Marsden collected man-of-the-match but this will be a game that Cleckheaton will spend some time reflecting on and their three losses against three of the top four sides were all winnable.
Cleckheaton will turn their attentions to the Yorkshire Cup on Saturday when they welcome Ilkley to Moorend (kick off 3pm).
While back-to-back home league defeats have been frustrating, the team are working hard on new structures and are not far off gelling into a side that can mount a real challenge in North One East.
Defeats to West Leeds and Alnwick have left Cleckheaton back in ninth place in the table but they hope a cup win will instil renewed confidence.