Season’s best display leaves Cleck on brink of survival

Jack Seddon was among Cleckheaton's try scorers in the victory over Wirral.
Jack Seddon was among Cleckheaton's try scorers in the victory over Wirral.

Cleckheaton produced their best performance of the season to defeat Wirral 20-12 in National Three North last Saturday.

The win lifts the Moorenders up to 10th in the table with three rounds left to play, while Wirral’s confirmation of the promotion play-off spot has gone on hold for another week.

Both sides were able to select from strength, with Cleckheaton welcoming Lee Queeley back into the fold and James Crowther and Josh Hall also returned, with Tom Austin taking his place in the back row following an injury.

Cleckheaton started confidently and took the game to Wirral from the outset and were rewarded with an early Ronan Evans penalty goal.

Richard Piper went close, before brother Andy burrowed over from close range for an unconverted try.

Cleckheaton could have gone further ahead with a fantastic effort, when Queeley and Brad Marsden exchanged passes on a 50 metre run down the wing only for a last gasp ankle tap prevented a score.

Flankers Jack Seddon and Tom Austin were impenetrable at every breakdown.

Cleckheaton suffered a blow when second rower Luke Pearson had to leave the field with what would turn out to be a fractured ankle.

The teams changed ends without further score but Cleckheaton started the second half in style as full-back James Wilson and Marsden worked their way around Wirral’s defence and caused the visitors to infringe in the tackle area.

A yellow card was produced and from the elected scrum, good hands from Matt Piper and Martin Woodhead put Wilson over for a try which Evans converted.

With 25 minutes to go Moorenders prop Paul Turner was sin-binned, followed a minute later by scrum half Jack Bickerdike.

James Crowther and Danny Vento entered the fray for Cleckheaton, as the team re-organised their front row.

Wirral, with their two man advantage, opted for a scrum from the penalty that came with the second card.

After two attempts and Cleckheaton dicing with a penalty try, Wirral shipped the ball wide for Julian Haigh to score.

From the re-start, the visitors spread the ball with pace and James Annetts completed a flowing move and converted his own try and suddenly Wirral were back in it at 15-12.

Cleckheaton were restored to full compliment and Ryan Piercy surprised Wirral’s defence with a nicely timed pass to Tom Austin who drew his man and fed Seddon for an excellent try.

The last 10 minutes saw Cleckheaton camped in their opposition’s half with Richard Piper making a notable 40 metre dash up centre field but the bonus point try proved elusive, despite a number of opportunities.