Cleckheaton’s away day hoodoo continued when they slipped to a 38-26 defeat at Driffield last Saturday, leaving them waiting for a first win on the road in North East One.
A much changed team from the previous week’s Yorkshire Cup success at York took the field, with Niall Jackson starting at prop, Bradley Marsden returning in the second row and Josh Plunkett moving to number eight, while Danny Booth made his first start for the club at left wing.
Driffield played with the breeze in the first half and got the early try when centre Ben Dinsdale, who proved to be a handful all game, burst through some indifferent tackling to score to the right of the posts, Watts added the goal to make it 7-0.
Cleckheaton got into the game and after good approach play, Martin Woodhead put Booth into space and the pacy wing scored wide on the left, Dearing added the goal on his return to his former club to level matters after 16 minutes.
Two minutes later, Driffield restored their lead when Dinsdale got away to score a long range try under between the posts with Watts adding the simple conversion.
Matt Piper replied with the next try for Cleckheaton when he burst onto a short inside pass from Dearing to grab his third try of the season, Dearing adding the extras to level the scores again.
Cleckheaton were guilty of coughing up possession when in good field position on a number of occasions but when an attack down Driffield’s left flank looked to have been lost, the referee deemed the ball had been kicked ahead and James Wilson followed up and won the chase to the line.
The conversion by Dearing gave Cleckheaton a 21-14 lead.
This advantage lasted just minutes though when Jack Seddon knocked on in midfield and Ben Dinsdale collected the ball to complete his hat-trick with another try, goaled by Watts and it was 21-21 at half time with all to play for.
Five minutes into the second half, Driffield went ahead again and it was Dinsdale who crossed again for the bonus point try. Watts added his fourth successful kick to stretch the lead.
The home team were retaining possession well even though Cleckheaton held the upper hand in both scrum and line out.
When Dearing was clearing a kick downfield, a spectacular grab kept the ball in play and quick hands by the backs put winger Joe Robinson clear to score Driffield’s fifth try.
Watts converted and the home team were two scores clear for the first time at 35-21.
Cleckheaton got their bonus point try on 62 minutes when possession was secured at a line out and Josh Plunkett expertly controlled the maul to crash over the line for an unconcerned score.
Watts went on to seal Driffield’s win with a 67th minute penalty goal.
Cleckheaton had the lion’s share of possession in the final 10 minutes but the handling errors continued and they couldn’t add the score to give a losing bonus point and they remain 12th in the table, level on 21 points with Pocklington.
Consett visit Moorend for the first time on Saturday (ko 2.15pm) with the Durham side bottom of the table, without a win so far this season.