Cleckheaton produced their best performance of the season to record an impressive 23-10 victory away to North One East high fliers Bradford and Bingley on a bitterly cold Saturday afternoon.
Bingley were chasing an eighth successive win and were desperate to ensure the game went ahead and had made contingency plans of moving the fixture to Keighley’s nearby all weather pitch before referee Adam Carpenter deemed their Wagon Lane pitch fit.
A magnificent defensive effort by Cleckheaton laid the platform for only their second away win of the campaign.
Incessant rain meant only the hardiest of supporters braved the conditions.
The visitors took an early lead when Bingley were penalised for not rolling away at a maul and Dale Breakwell kicked the goal.
The visitors’ bright start continued as the kick off failed to go 10 metres and Cleck launched another attack.
Full-back James Wilson kicked through for Mikey Haywood to chase but he was beaten to the ball by the backtracking Aaron Magee.
Cleckheaton were held up over the try line and had another chance to extend their lead but were unable to land a penalty when the home side were pulled up for dissent.
Haywood was sin-binned for a deliberate knock on as Bingley looked to hit back but Breakwell extended Cleck’s lead with a second penalty.
Cleckheaton were penalised for a high tackle by Ryan Piercy and the Bees bagged the game’s first try when full-back Cameron Bainbridge was on the end of a well-worked move to cross.
He was forced off injured soon after but the home side grabbed a second try before half-time when a spell of pressure ended with flanker Ali Macdonald crossing to edge them ahead at half-time.
Breakwell kicked a third penalty two minutes into the second half which reduced the arrears to a point but the fly-half missed a difficult attempt from wide on the right which would have edged them ahead and was also off target with a 65th minute effort.
Cleckheaton continued to have their bright spells and threatened down Bingley’s left wing after Jack Seddon had taken play confidently into home territory.
Bingley prop Alex Keeton was sin-binned but the home side continued to threaten and it took a brilliant tackle from Paul Turner 15 minutes from full-time to prevent the Bees extending their lead.
The key moment came in the 72nd minute when a Bingley move broke down and centre Mike Swetman kicked the loose ball downfield.
He looked to have kicked it on too far from inside the ‘22 but winger Mikey Hayward was on hand to win the race and score, with Breakwell adding the conversion.
Six minutes later, Cleckheaton grabbed a decisive second try when Josh Plunkett went over and Breakwell continued his fine effort with the boot by landing the goal to give them a 13-point lead.
Hooker Niall Jackson was Cleckheaton’s man-of-the-match, player-coach Thiu Barnard had an impact after starting in place of Joey Carley, while strong-running centre Matt Piper also worked hard in a terrific Moorenders display.