THIS was only the second game of a largely positive season where Cleckheaton have failed to take any points from a match as they slipped to a second successive defeat in North One East.
On reflection the visitors deserved little as the competitive and motivated home side dominated both possession and territory.
The first quarter of the match was even but Cleckheaton were making errors of execution which played into Northern’s hands.
The stop-start nature of the season seemed to have a radically more profound effect on the Yorkshire outfit, who throughout lacked the positivity and cohesion that previously had seen them make a charge up the league table.
It was half-an-hour before the first score when a midfield break gave home winger Dom Fawcett the space to romp over for a try. Andy Sutherland converted.
Cleckheaton fought back but a lack of quality set piece possession and a continuation of basic errors negated any attempts to build phases for which the team has been noted throughout a disrupted season.
At the break the lead appeared fragile as the visitors now had the stiff breeze in their favour. However, it was Northern who intensified their efforts and Sutherland increased their lead with a penalty.
Ross Hayden reduced the deficit with a penalty in the 47th minute but Northern were in a determined mood in their fight against relegation.
It was their best player, back row Harrison Clark, who put the final nail in the coffin when he intercepted another speculative pass to sprint away for a try which was converted.
Sutherland added a further penalty to rub salt in the Cleckheaton wounds and the visitors were left to contemplate their lack-lustre performance.
With the visit of Pontefract tomorrow (Saturday) coach David Harrison realises the importance of using the home advantage and local support to ty and get things back on track.
He said: “We have made great strides to make Moorend a tough place for teams to come this season, The players are very proud of their home form. We have trained well and fully expect a much-improved performance this week.”