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Cleckheaton rack up fifth win in row

Cleckheaton's Matt Piper is hauled down by a Percy Park defender during last Saturday's North One East clash. Picture: Gerald Christian
Cleckheaton's Matt Piper is hauled down by a Percy Park defender during last Saturday's North One East clash. Picture: Gerald Christian

Cleckheaton recorded a fifth straight victory in North One East and ensured it was a happy trip back south from their final away game of the season as they ground out a 14-10 victory at Percy Park.

Cleckheaton made the long journey to North Shields for their first visit to Preston Avenue in five years.

Percy Park are facing a battle against relegation and their hopes were hampered when they lost two players to injury in the opening five minutes.

Cleckheaton exerted pressure on the weakened home forwards in the scrums, which they would go on to dominate throughout the game.

Cleckheaton took an 11th minute lead when a planned move created a gap for full-back James Wilson to race over to the right of the posts for his ninth try of the season and Mike Swetman converted.

A dour struggle developed with handling errors in the wet conditions but Jack Bickerdike was a threat with neat kicks which kept Percy Park on the back foot and almost led to two tries.

Cleckheaton conceded a penalty in front of their own posts late in the first half and Percy Park kicked the goal to reduce the arrears to 7-3.

Cleckheaton dominated after the break as the ball was moved right to winger Craig Blackburn, who was held up inches short of the try line.

Moments later an overlap was worked down the right by Ronan Evans but Blackburn and replacement Tim Mobbs got in each other’s way and the ball was spilled forward.

Luke Pearson and Tom Austin were dominating the line outs and Cleckheaton eventually extended their lead on 52 minutes when captain Matthew Piper romped over from 15 metres for his 10th try of the season, the reliable boot of Swetman added the conversion to give them a 14-3 lead.

Percy Park attempted to put Cleck under pressure but a magnificent defensive effort by the pack, in particular Brad Marsden at flanker, who topped the tackle count, kept them at bay.

Cleckheaton were fortunate not to concede a penalty try, when Matt Piper was adjudged to have not released in a tackle and was sin-binned with a minute left.

From the resulting penalty, the home side crashed over for a try which was converted but Cleck had done enough to seal a fifth straight win.

The Moorenders will look to sign off the season with two more wins as they host fifth placed Morpeth on Saturday and second in the table Penrith on April 21 (kick offs 3pm).