By Angela Walker
CLECKHEATON came within an outstretched arm of causing a major upset in the Yorkshire Cup semi-final on Wednesday night.
The Moorend club, who finished in a solid mid-table position in North One East, have been committed to the Yorkshire Cup competition and have been rewarded with successive semi-final appearances, both against Hull, who are two divisions above them in National League Two.
Last year it was a dramatic extra-time defeat in East Yorkshire, this time the excitement was contained within 80 minutes but it had no less drama as Cleckheaton led for an hour until a Hull try 12 minutes before full-time gave the visitors the lead.
It sparked an all-out assault on the Hull line as wave after wave of Cleckheaton attacks, led by the impressive Rob Bennett, the quick hands of Ross Hayden and the driving force of Richard Piper were repelled by Hull.
The best chance came as the referee looked at his watch to call time, full-back Hayden started a move involving Iain Gordon and Richard Piper the ball was moved out to Johnno Marshall but after breaking through two tackles his progress to the line and a potential victory was cruelly halted.
There was very little to choose between the two sides as Cleckheaton put on one of their best displays of the season.
Hull knew they were in a game from the start as James Wilson scooped up a Hull fumble and drove towards the line before being tackled.
Cleckheaton exerted plenty of pressure and dominated possession but after 19 minutes Hull showed their qualities as pacy winger Will Robinson picked up the ball on halfway, eluded several tackles and scored in the corner. The conversion was missed.
Cleckheaton hit back minutes later as the referee spotted an infringement in a tackle and Gordon landed a penalty.
Cleckheaton were unlucky as Richard Piper combined with Gordon and Hayden to free Martin Woodhead he jinked inside a tackler and was clear to the line but his efforts were halted as the touch judged ruled he had a foot in touch.
The home side kept going with some tremendous team defence, and a two point margin at half-time was all the incentive they needed.
After the break Cleckheaton were awarded a long range penalty while Gordon found the distance it fell just wide.
Almost from the re-start Cleckheaton had their hands on the ball again and Richard Piper linked with Gordon and Peter Murphy who slipped the ball into Woodhead to touch down near the left flag.
A touchline conversion attempt by Gordon failed but he was on target with a penalty shortly afterwards.
Cleckheaton piled on the pressure again but Hull stepped up a gear. Cleckheaton manfully held back a tide of yellow shirts but Rob Devonshire eventually scored in the corner. The kick was missed and the Cleckheaton lead was reduced to a point.
Cleckheaton attacked again but chose the wrong options for a pass and a chance went begging. Hull had an effort ruled out before they took the lead when no8 Ollie Cook set up Fernhead to wriggle through the tacklers for a try. The conversion was missed which left Cleckheaton needing a try to seal an appearance in the Yorkshire Cup final.
The Moorenders re-doubled their efforts and the tension rose but they could not make the vital breakthrough before the final whistle.
Cleckheaton: Hayden, Woodhead, Queeley, Murphy, Wilson, Gordon, M Piper, Turner, Worsley, C Piper, Goiti, Freeman, Turton Bennett, R Piper. Reps; Thrower, Goldthorpe, Beasty, Brooke, Marshall, Blackburn, Toulson.
Hull: White, Percy, Slingsby, Radford, Donkin, Cameron, White, Price, Fernhead, Dutton, Lewis, P Murphy, Maka, Dorrington, Cook. Reps: Fullman, Longborne, Robinson, C Murphy, Devonshire.
Referee: Nick Ramsden. N Yorks Soc
Minis Team launched
Cleckheaton RU are looking for budding stars, boys and girls aged five and six years old, to join their new Minis Team.
Initially the focus will be on catching, movement and having fun however playing in a tag rugby team will follow.
Training starts at 6.15pm on Wednesday May 9 behind the Albert Morton Pavilion on Whitechapel Road.
For further information please contact Richard on 07976 836061.