Cleckheaton outclass local rivals YMCA on way to impressive Bower Trophy success

Cleckheaton's James Wilson beats the YMCA defence on his way to score. 'Pic: Gerald Christan
Cleckheaton's James Wilson beats the YMCA defence on his way to score. 'Pic: Gerald Christan

Cleckheaton put in a blistering last 15 minutes to outclass Huddersfield YMCA on their way to a 43-13 victory in North One East last Saturday, while also claiming the John Bower Trophy.

The cup is traditionally contested between the close rivals in memory of the former prop who represented both clubs.

Cleckheaton welcomed back Lee Queeley and Andy Piper but were without Ryan Piercy and Mikey Hayward and then suffered the late withdrawal of flanker Josh Plunkett due to illness.

Cleckheaton hit the ground running with a spell of controlled possession before Ben Thrower forced his way over.

Despite enjoying a lengthy period in Cleckheaton’s 22, YM could not breakdown the stalwart defence as Paul Turner and Luke Pearson put in some notable hits and the back row of Brad Marsden, Joey Carley and Jack Seddon disrupted Huddersfield at every opportunity.

Captain Matt Piper was a handful for the defence and earned a scrum just outside YMCA’s 22.

Scrum-half Jack Bickerdike picked up the ball, dummied to Ronan Evans, scooted through a gap and sprinted to the line unchallenged.

Mike Swetman converted from in front of the posts.

Cleck player coach Thiu Barnard was forced off with a calf strain to be replaced in the second row by Matt Wood.

Gavin Stead landed two penalties for the home side but Cleckheaton led 12-6 at half-time, when Tim Mobbs entered the fray giving Andy Piper a well earned rest.

Swetman added a penalty goal eight minutes into the second half before Jack Seddon skilfully stayed on his feet in a tackle and burrowed his way over for a try which Swetman converted.

Cleckheaton seemed to have the upper hand but were reduced to 14 men as Paul Turner was sin-binned.

YMCA took advantage of their with their only try of the day, which Stead converted to reduce the lead to 22-13.

Cleckheaton’s sliding defence worked well and winger Grant Fitzsimmons produced a spectacular tackle to bundle his opposite number into touch.

Fitzsimmons then went on to score Cleckheaton’s bonus point try with an unstoppable run, which put the result beyond doubt and also secured him man-of-the-match.

Cleckheaton added two further tries in the final 10 minutes with James Wilson executing a training ground move to cross between the posts.

Queeley then marked his return to action with Cleckheaton’s sixth try as he showed terrific pace to round YMCA’s defence. Swetman converted all three second half tries to seal an impressive away win.