Cleckheaton will target a serious tilt at promotion from North One East in the new year after they racked up an eighth win of the season in defeating Kendal 26-15 at blustery Moorend last Saturday.
Victory leaves Cleckheaton fourth in the table but just six points behind new leaders Driffield at the halfway point in the campaign.
Cleckheaton were unchanged from the previous week’s win at Bradford and Bingley with the exception of Chris Piper taking his place on the bench .
The wind was blowing across the field and the pitch was soft underfoot after recent rain but was perfectly playable.
Kendal went on attack from the start and when outside half Glen Weightman sliced through the defence, Rory Blankney-Edwards was on hand to take the scoring pass. Weightman slipped as the kick was taken but the visitors had an early lead.
Cleckheaton were soon back on level terms with hooker Ben Thrower forcing his way over for his sixth try of the season but Dale Breakwell was wide with the conversion attempt.
Kendal were trying to get their backline moving but seemed to kick a lot of possession away which Wilson, Hayward and Marshall dealt with competently and frequently returned the ball with interest.
Once again the powerful Cleckheaton forwards were making the hard yards and kept putting the visitors on the back foot.
A scrum five metres from the line provided the chance and although the ball came free, Jack Seddon turned and picked up but he had enough power to get over for his fifth try of the season. Breakwell goaled and Cleckheaton led 12-5.
The lead was reduced on 25 minutes when Weightman slotted a simple goal and three minutes later, they got their second try with a simple catch and drive from a line out close to the try line.
Wrathall was the scorer and Weightman added the extras on 28 minutes to edge Kendal 15-12 ahead.
Scoring opportunities were limited and as half-time approached, Breakwell’s attempted 35 metre drop goal sailed wide of the posts to leave Kendal ahead at the break.
Ten minutes into the second half, prop Andy Piper rumbled over the try line and Breakwell added the goal and this see-saw game was finely poised at 19-15.
Cleckheaton put some fresh legs on with Chris Piper and Archie Rika Rayne replacing Jackson and Thrower, while Ben Etchells got some game time in replacing the outstanding Tom Lillicrop, who along with Gus Milborne had fine games.
Breakwell had a chance to put the game to bed with three minutes to go but his 30 metre penalty slipped wide.
The visitors went into panic mode at the restart. A quick tap on the 22 metre line saw Kendal make 20 yards but lost the ball in contact and when Depledge picked it up, he fed Wilson who powered away for the bonus point winning try, Breakwell added the goal and victory was assured.
The big crowd had been entertained from start to finish and the locals would have headed to the clubhouse the happier for victory in a hard fought encounter.
With other results going in Cleckheaton’s favour on the day, they moved to fourth in the table as they enter a mid season Christmas break.
There will be rugby at Moorend on Boxing Day with Old Brodlieans making the short trip to Moorend, kick off 11am, with the club open and food and drink will be available all day.