Cleckheaton took two points from their North One East game at Durham City but they were only denied victory by a last minute try.
The day started inauspiciously for Cleckheaton as players and supporters were left in the club car park after the team’s regular coach driver was taken ill on Saturday morning and a bus to take them to Durham had not turned up.
Some quick thinking and help from team sponsors, Andrew Caygill of VW Van Centre, secured two minibuses and together with several cars, the team headed north up the A1.
Cleckheaton took to the field with confidence on the back of three victories, including two bonus point wins.
Ryan Piercy was absent due to a knee injury but otherwise coach Dave Harrison selected from strength.
Cleckheaton looked slightly out of sorts in the first 20 minutes but scored the first try when a long pass from Pete Murphy, on the edge of his own 22 found Paul Turner in space.
The captain fed Johnno Marshall, who took the ball 30 metres before passing back inside for Ross Hayden to run in for a try, which was converted by Iain Gordon.
Durham replied with a penalty, one of far too many that Cleckheaton conceded, and the home side took the lead when a wayward pass was intercepted by winger Chris Metcalf, who raced in for a breakaway try.
The same player added to his tally with an unconverted try in the corner but Gordon reduced the arrears with a penalty goal and Durham held a slended 15-10 lead at half-time.
Cleckheaton began to establish the upper hand in the second half and enjoyed a period of pressure in the Durham 22.
This culminated with a flat pass from Steve Worsley to Richard Piper who ran an incisive line, which split the defence and allowed the back rower to go over between the posts.
The score, which established Piper as the top try-scorer in the leaguewith 22 in as many games this season, was converted by Gordon to give the visitors a 17-15 lead.
Cleckheaton improved their advantage following pressure on the Durham scrum-half from Matty Piper, which lead to him knocking on and from the resulting turn around Durham infringed to give Gordon the chance to increase Cleckheaton’s lead to 20-15.
With the game approaching its end, Cleckheaton again found themselves pressuring when they were awarded a line-out five metres from the try line.
Another score seemed imminent but the referee ruled that the throw wasn’t straight, to the disbelief of the visiting crowd, and from the Durham scrum Cleckheaton were marched back to within five metres of their line on the back of four consecutive penalties.
With time all but up, Durham won their lineout and moved the ball swiftly right and back left, giving the winger just enough space to squeeze in at the corner.
Cleckheaton watched nervously as the touchline conversion drifted wide and the spoils were shared.