Cleckheaton Kestrels edged out in close Rishworthians match
With the first team taking a rest from the rigours of North One East rugby Cleckheaton RUFC’s spotlight fell on their Kestrels side as they travelled to Copley Lane to take on Old Rishworthians.
It was a rematch after the Kestrels had won 22-12 in September, but the Rishworthians came out on top 12-10 in a close encounter.
The Kestrels were down to host Selby, but with that game called off they were able to arrange a game with Rishworthians rather than have a blank Saturday.
The Cleckheaton side had the advantage of the wind and driving rain behind them in the first half and went ahead after eight minutes when Matt Wood took clean ball at a line-out and Ollie Clark was driven over the line.
The conversion attempt drifted wide in difficult kicking conditions, but 5-0 was a positive start in a game played with uncontested scrums from the start.
Rishworthians then applied some pressure to Kestrels line and their left centre exploited a gap to score on 25 minutes, just to the left of the posts. The conversion was added and the hosts had a 7-5 lead.
Given the conditions, both teams tried to play running rugby and credit must be given for that on a difficult day.
Shortly before half-time with the Kestrels trying to barge their way over the line through the pack, a quick move to the right found right wing Veron Dhesi who squeezed over in the corner for a try that gave the visitors a 10-7 lead at half-time.
Into the second half the Kestrels were dealing with the elements better, keeping the game tight.
They were also still trying to add to their score and came agonisingly close when the forwards were driven into touch inches from the corner flag.
Rishworthians were content to clear the ball downfield on the wind and hope for an error from their opponents’ defence.
But after a series of penalties were conceded for offside, Rishworthians got over the line to regain the lead at 12-10 with 10 minutes remaining.
Kestrels made a mighty effort to seal the game, but could not cross the try line.
As time was up on the clock and with final play of the game, a penalty was awarded to Kestrels 35 metres out and 10 metres in from touch. A successful kick would have given the visitors victory by a single point, but Dom Flanagan pulled his attempt wide of the posts and relieved Rishworthians took a narrow 12-10 victory in a game that proved entertaining despite dire conditions.
Cleckheaton’s U16s are enjoying a fine start to the season, having progressed to the second round of the Yorkshire Cup with a 34-20 victory over Keighley last month.
They followed up with an impressive display against Roundhegians when Jake Rayner (two), CJ Leatham, Logan Senior (three), Tony Chiem, Thomas Naylor, Finnley Johnson, Harri Sugden (two) and Ben Curley all crossed for tries and seven conversions were shared between Leatham, Sugden and Rayner.
Cleckheaton’s first XV return to action this Saturday when they make the short travel to play Bradford & Bingley in the North One East.
Both teams go into the game on the back of defeats in their previous two matches with Cleckheaton narrowly losing 19-14 to Heath and going down 61-34 at Driffield while the Bees were heavily defeated at Ilkley and at home to Morpeth.
With Bradford & Bingley still winless this season at the bottom of the table Cleck have to see the game as a chance to get their campaign going again. They currently sit in sixth place, 10 points behind leaders Ilkley and Old Brodleians.