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Hard-fought victory for Cleckheaton
Malton & Norton 17, Cleckheaton 24
Cleckheaton continued their good form since the turn of the year with this hard-fought bonus-point victory in SSE North One East.
Malton showed their quality early on and took the lead with a penalty from wing Ali Heard in the fifth minute.
The visitors' much-vaunted pack soon got into their stride, and from a classic line-out set-piece, Ryan Piercy provided the possession for his colleagues to drive skipper Richard Piper over for a try which was unconverted.
Malton moved the ball about to good effect and, from broken play, No 8 Sam Triffit picked up a loose ball and sprinted 50 metres for a try as the Cleckheaton defence hesitated, waiting for a knock-on decision.
Heard converted and the game became a hard slog with defences on top.
However, Cleckheaton's workhorse Piercy drove through for a good try which was converted by Iain Gordon.
Malton regained the initiative, however, just before half-time with a try from Gus Ramsay, converted by Heard.
The second half was only ten minutes old when intense Cleckheaton pressure created the space to enable Ross Hayden to score a try wide out.
The scoring was completed on the hour mark with a try which was a mirror image of the visitors' first with Richard Piper once more providing the touchdown, converted by Gordon.
Both sides used their replacements' bench to good effect and Cleckheaton were able to give 17-year-old colts back row Josh White another chance to show his undoubted talent at this level.
This was a very entertaining and highly-competitive match and a credit to both sides who battled hard as the initiative swung from one side to the other.
Ultimately, however, it was the Cleckheaton forwards who made the difference with their excellent driving play and clinical execution at the set-pieces.