CLECKHEATON turned on the style to ease into the Yorkshire Cup quarter-finals with an eight-try demolition of Harrogate writes Andrew Hunt.
With a top-of-the-table clash against Chester this weekend in mind, National Three North leaders Harrogate opted to rest a number of key players and the Moorenders took full advantage to cruise into the last eight.
Cleckheaton’s forwards laid the platform for the win, constantly driving Harrogate back, while they had too much pace in the backs as the racked up a half century of points.
The home side took just five minutes to hit the front when Jonno Marshall showed an excellent turn of pace to break through on the left and he sent Martin Woodhead racing in at the corner.
Iain Gordon was unable to land the difficult conversion but he was on target two minutes later with a penalty, before slotting over a drop goal from 35 metres out to put his side 11-0 up after just 15 minutes.
Harrogate responded with a spell of pressure but they were repelled by the excellent Cleckheaton defence.
Winger James Wilson broke down the right to set up a good field position and after Harrogate were penalised for offside, Richard Piper drove forward and popped a lovely ball up for Paul Turner to crash over.
Cleckheaton were, perhaps, a little surprised at the ease in which they were opening Harrogate up and they continued their ruthless streak with a third try in the final minute of the first half.
Full-back Ross Hayden came into the attacking line well and gave a lovely pass to Wilson, who beat the defence on the outside before cutting in to score behind the posts to give Gordon a simple conversion.
Harrogate had been starved of possession for long periods of the first half and their frustration boiled over five minutes after the break when a fight erupted at a maul.
When calm was restored Super League referee Jamie Leahy - relatively new to the 15-a-side code - sin-binned Turner (Cleckheaton) and Martin Seyres (Harrogate), while also showing a straight red card to visiting prop Benjamin Innes.
It was while down to 13 men that Harrogate responded with their only try when Alisdair Charmers broke down the left and behind the posts. Full-back Lewis Miniken converted.
However, any hopes Harrogate had of producing a comeback were blown away as Cleck ran in a further five tries.
Woodhead spotted a gap and showed an excellent turn of pace to race through before diving between the posts. Gordon’s conversion put Cleck 30-7 ahead to effectively kill off the tie.
Cleckheaton completely dominated the final quarter as they continually drove at the tiring Harrogate defence.
Jack Bickerdike took Cleckheaton close to the line and after Robin Bennett’s drive was halted, the excellent Richard Piper peeled off the back of the ruck to crash over for a deserved try and Gordon landed an excellent conversion from wide out.
No8 Piper again drove Cleck close before Grant Turton peeled away to score an unconverted try.
Hayden’s lovely kick over the top forced Harrogate to concede a five metre scrum. Richard Piper picked up the ball and although his charge for the line was halted by the base of the posts, Ryan Piercy drove over for the try and Gordon landed the simple goal.
The same combination provided Cleckheaton’s eighth try as Piper again drove close before Piercy collected the ball and scored wide on the left to bring up the half century and cap a very satisfying afternoon’s work for Dave Harrison’s men.
Cleckheaton: Hayden; Wilson, Marshall, M Piper, Woodhead; Gordon, Bickerdike; Turner, Thrower, C Piper, Nolan, Turton, Bennett, Piercy, R Piper. Replacements: A Piper, Sargeant, Blackburn, Tolson.
Harrogate: Miniken; Chamers, Edwards, Hardy, Parrish; Rowntree, Davies; Musotti, Yorks, Innes, Spencer, Connor, Smith, M Seyres, Campion. Replacements: Hart, Palmer, O’Sullivan, Reaveley, J Seyres.
Referee: Jamie Leahy (Yorkshire Central).