Vento’s dramatic late try hands Cleckheaton precious league win

Danny Vento crashes over for Cleckheaton's crucial last-gasp try against Firwood Waterloo. Pictures: Paul Butterfield.
Danny Vento crashes over for Cleckheaton's crucial last-gasp try against Firwood Waterloo. Pictures: Paul Butterfield.

Danny Vento grabbed a dramatic last gasp try to complete a fantastic comeback and hand Cleckheaton a priceless 28-24 victory against Firwood Waterloo in their fight against relegation from National Three North last Saturday.

The Moorenders looked to be heading for a seventh straight league defeat, which would have seen them slip into the bottom three, as they trailed 24-7 before fighting back superbly in the final half hour.

Vento grabbed a brace of tries in his final game for the club for some time and the his second sparked jubilant scenes among the large home crowd.

Whilst Tom Austin and Brad Marsden were out of contention with injuries, Cleckheaton welcomed Lee Queeley and Ross Hayden back into their squad.

Ronan Evans started at stand-off with Neil Chivers at outside centre in the same formation as the last outing away to Hull.

Waterloo opened the scoring when a break in centre field could not be reined in and Tom Lovell went in for a try for the visitors, converted by Liam Reeve.

Cleckheaton responded well to this setback and the pack, with Jack Bickerdike in the driving seat at scrum half, pressed Waterloo’s line. Jack Seddon went close and so did Paul Turner before captain Richard Piper barged over from the back of a close range scrum. Hayden added the extras to level the scores.

Cleckheaton were then caught napping by Waterloo, who clearly demonstrated their superior pace in the three quarters, when a couple of missed one-on-one tackles by Cleckheaton were punished by long range scores.

First Reeve crossed and then Lovell went in for his second try, both converted by Reeve, to put Waterloo into a 21-7 lead.

Cleckheaton were unable to respond and at the interval, Waterloo held a handsome lead.

Cleckheaton went further behind when Reeve added a penalty goal 10 minutes into the second half which left the Moorenders trailing by 17 points.

A victory, and with it the home team’s tenure in National Three North, was hanging by a thread.

However, the side never gave up hope and with grit and determination fought their way back into the match.

Ryan Piercy, Luke Pearson and Andy Piper worked hard, while Joey Carley and Ben Thrower added fresh legs from the bench as the forwards rumbled their way into good field position.

The ball was spread across field by Bickerdike and Matt Piper where Vento dummied to his wing man, Josh Hall, before stepping in field for a well taken try. Hayden converted.

Cleckheaton continued to apply the pressure and won a penalty resulting in a line out close to Waterloo’s line.

Mark Chivers was accurate with his throwing all afternoon and a good set piece resulted in Jack Seddon stretching over in the corner. Hayden converted from the touchline and Cleckheaton were within three points of the opposition.

As the clock ticked down the atmosphere became incredibly tense with both sets of supporters chewing their nails and cheering their side on.

Cleckheaton launched a final attack and again found themselves close to Waterloo’s line.

James Wilson looked to have got the ball close to the ground before Vento made certain with his second try, to the rapturous applause of the Cleckheaton faithful.

Hayden converted before the referee blew the final whistle and the Moorenders celebrated five precious league points.