Cleckheaton produced a decent effort and showed plenty of heart despite slipping to a 22-12 defeat at home to Driffield last Saturday.
Driffield’s win at Moorend, coupled with Morpeth’s defeat at West Hartlepool, propelled the visitors to the top of the North One East league table.
Cleckheaton went into the game missing four experienced players but welcomed Lee Queeley back into the outside centre position, where he made an instant impact putting in a ferocious early tackle to thwart a Driffield attack.
Ryan Piercy also made his return, initially to the bench, after a back injury that has kept him out for a month.
Despite Cleckheaton’s defensive efforts in the opening 10 minutes, Driffield could not be kept at bay altogether and converted an early penalty.
Cleckheaton’s defence remained solid but the pressure led to a five metre scrum and after a number of phases, Driffield went in for a converted try.
Cleck tried to work their way into the match and had a good spell of pressure but could not convert this into points and Driffield led 10-0 at half-time.
Cleckheaton began the second half reinvigorated and took the game to Driffield and some enterprising play in the back line put James Wilson in for an excellent try. Mike Swetman converted and the home team were back in the game.
Driffield caught Cleckheaton completely off-guard from a line-out and the catcher ran 20 metres up field without a hand on him, eventually culminating in a second try to extend the lead to 15-7.
Cleckheaton’s heads did not go down and the forwards worked hard to establish good field position, with Jack Seddon and man-of-the-match Josh Plunkett eager for work.
A dancing run from Mikey Hayward created a break and Ronan Evans supported before off-loading back to Hayward, who just made it to the line despite the attention of the full-back.
Cleckheaton looked to be in the ascendancy as Driffield’s play became nervy and the home side turned the ball over, with the back line deciding to run it.
Cleck stormed forward but the pass which could have created a scoring chance was too close to the Driffield centre and he intercepted and ran the ball in from 20 metres out to score.
The conversion was also added to seal the visitors’ victory, which was enough to condemn Cleck to defeat and move Driffield top of the table.
Cleckheaton face another difficult fixture on Saturday when they travel to West Leeds aiming to pick up an eighth win of the season.
The Moorenders go into the game lying eighth in the table, 10 points behind Wests with a game in hand and will be bidding to become only the second team to win at Bluehill Lane this season.
Ryan Piercy is named in Cleckheaton’s starting line up after he was selected on the bench for last week’s game against Driffield following a month on the sidelines with a back injury.
Cleckheaton will also be targeting a first win of 2018 having suffered back-to-back defeats at high flying Bridlington and Driffield.
Selected Sides (ko 2.15pm)
1stXV at West Leeds, meet 12.15pm: Mikey Hayward, Ronan Evans, Lee Queeley, Matt Piper, Pat Foulstone, Bailey Smith, James Wilson, Niall Jackson, James Crowther, Andy Piper, Ryan Piercy, Brad Marsden, Joey Carley, Josh Plunkett, Jack Seddon. Replacements: Paul Turner, Matt Wood, Liam Darville.
Kestrels v Huddersfield, meet 12.45pm: Joe Tilby Baxter, Brian Proctor, Craig Blackburn, Callum Green, Anthony McCarthy, Sam Womersley, Lewis Beasty, Will Denham, Andy Porritt, Joe Roberts, Ollie Clark, Josh Clough, Alfie Green, Rob Lowe, Ben Etchells. Replacements: Liam Harley, Cain Crotty, Charlie McGovern.
3rdXV v Bradford & Bingley Vets, meet 1.15pm: Dave Howsen, Alex Bailey, Josef Windle, Nick Lazenby, Jake Grinsdale, Antony Hobson, Keiran Baldry, Max Blakely, Andy Brown, Andy Womersley, Danny Howe, Lyndon Ashley, Scott Hartley, Adam Clough, Josh Blackhall. Replacements: Andy Tilby Baxter, Phil Manning, Danny McGuigan, Bob Thornton, Harry Sutcliffe.