Cleckheaton’s unbeaten start is ended as leaders score late try
Cleckheaton’s unbeaten start to the season was ended when they travelled to take on early North One East frontrunners Ilkley, but they pushed their hosts all the way.
Although they were unable to cross for a try and ended up on the wrong side of a 19-15 result Cleckheaton could take plenty of positives from a strong display against opponents boasting a 100 per cent record so far this season.
They did lead 15-5 at one stage and also brought back a bonus point for their efforts as well as plenty of hopes that they can live with the best teams in the division as they look to put together a promotion campaign.
The visitors made an encouraging start as their forwards exerted pressure from a scrum and earned a penalty that saw Dale Breakwell slot the ball between the posts from long range to open the scoring.
Ilkley looked to reply in kind, but missed with two penalty kick attempts and Cleck were able to stretch their lead to six points when Dale Breakwell was on target with his second goal.
The hosts finally put separate elements of their game together as they scored the game’s first try on 32 minutes with winger Harry Boyd touching down a kick ahead that had looked to be going out of play.
But Cleckheaton were still doing well in the forward battles and were on the scoreboard again as Dale Breakwell kicked his third goal with an impressive effort from close to the half-way line. They then made it 12-5 at half-time when Tom Breakwell landed a drop-goal.
A good start to the second half saw the visitors stretch their lead to 10 points six minutes in when Breakwell was on target with his fourth penalty.
But that was to be their last score as Ilkley hit back strongly.
The home team scored their second try when a good move following a line-out led to JH Johnson showing determination to get the ball down over the line despite the attention of several defenders.
With Benny King adding the extras there were only three points in it and half-an-hour to play.
The game was ebbing and flowing now and Cleck were maybe unlucky to have a try ruled out after Ben Thrower was adjudged to have made a double movement following a strong driving maul.
The relief appeared temporary for Ilkley as they were then reduced by a man after number eight Steve Costello was sin-binned, but they did not concede in his time off the field.
Dale Breakwell went close with a difficult kick at goal and the visitors poured on the pressure with several attacking line-outs. From one a forward drive was deliberately pulled down short of the try line, but a penalty try was not forthcoming as the home team survived.
Cleck were maybe left to rue a decision not to go for goal with a penalty as they were held up on the line and somehow failed to get the try that would have clinched the points.
They still held the lead, though, until two minutes from time when Breakwell’s kick into the home 22 was collected by Jack Brown, who launched a counter attack that was taken on by Kodie Brook and recycled well before Johnson sprinted clear to score.
With King converting Ilkley now led 19-15 and the drama was not quite finished as from the restart, the hosts secured the ball and Jack Seddon made contact with the player’s head.
He was shown a red card and the ball was kicked out from the resulting penalty to see Ilkley home for their narrow victory.
Cleckheaton are back at home this Saturday when they take on Old Brodleians and can expect another tough test with their visitors having won three of their four league matches.