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Defence win their spurs as Cleckheaton defeat leaders
Cleckheaton 22, Beverley 13
Cleckheaton put in a command performance to starve Beverley of possession and take the points from the SSE North One East leaders at Moorend yesterday.
The home side's stonewall defence across the back division could not be breached by Beverley's usually potent attack.
The athleticism of Ollie Akroyd also pressurised Beverley's line-out, leading to a non-straight throw-in and a Cleckheaton scrum inside the opposition's 22-metre area, from which Iain Gordon put Matt Piper through a gap for a converted try.
Beverley responded with vigour, throwing their heavyweight forwards at Cleckheaton's defence but steely commitment from Paul Turner, Andy Piper and Ryan Piercy ensured they didn't gain much ground.
Cleckheaton extended their lead with five minutes left in the half when a solid catch and drive from a line-out enabled Richard Piper to get over the whitewash for a 12-0 lead at the interval.
Lee Queeley was sin-binned shortly into the second period for not rolling away from the tackle, and Beverley got their first points on the board from the associated penalty.
Cleckheaton were still down to 14 men when they were camped on Beverley's line looking likely to score but a loose pass bounced onto the ground and was intercepted by Beverley full back Lee Birch, who raced 90 metres for his team's first try, the conversion attempt being missed.
The hosts responded with a penalty goal from Iain Gordon, which hit the top of the crossbar from 45 metres but dropped over for the points.
With Cleckheaton restored to a full complement, they once again got within touching distance of Beverley's line with controlled forward drives.
From here, two long passes from Jack Bickerdike and man of the match Matt Piper propelled the ball across the field where James Wilson was waiting wide on the wing to go in unopposed, Gordon being sublime with the touchline conversion to put Cleckheaton 22-8 ahead.
Beverley got a consolation try in the dying moments when Nathan Clarke drove over but the opportunity of a losing bonus point was missed as the conversion drifted wide.