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Cleckheaton's catch and drive is potent weapon
Cleckheaton 36, Durham City 0
With this victory over the bottom club and defeats yesterday for Sheffield and Wheatley Hills, Cleckheaton are now fourth in SSE North One East and within three points of second position.
A showdown with Wheatley Hills at Moorend for a play-off place in the last home game of the season on Saturday, April 20 looks an increasing possibility.
From the kick-off, Cleckheaton were on the attack, using their superior rolling maul and scrummaging techniques to good advantage.
The first score coming from a rolling maul that travelled at least 30 metres before Ryan Piercy claimed the touchdown and soon after that, Iain Gordon added a penalty.
However, Durham weren’t going to lie down and, despite little possession of their own, defended desperately, and when they did get the ball, the home defence was up quickly to knock them back.
The conditions were making holding onto the ball an art form, but one player who made the least handling mistakes was Cleckheaton scrum half Jack Bickerdike.
He was next to score as he exploited a hole in the Durham defence blasted by the repeated pick and drives of the home pack to scamper 15 metres and splash down under the posts, Gordon converting.
Ahead 17-0 at half-time and with an Arctic breeze at their backs, Cleckheaton were straight into the Durham 22, a ruck infringement by the visitors allowing the hosts to kick the resulting penalty into the corner for a five-metre line-out.
The well-oiled machine, which is the Cleckheaton catch and drive resulted in another try for No 8 Richard Piper.
Aggressive running with the ball in hand by host flanker Naz Salama was becoming a feature of the second half, and from one of his half-breaks, prop Paul Turner was on hand to receive a scoring pass and trundle 25 metres to score Ashton-like arm raised unopposed.
Gordon converted and, with the bonus point in the bag, the home side's tempo dropped a little but they remained in the driving seat and it wasn’t long before Richard Piper charged up the middle of the park.
He shrugged off tiring tacklers as he went forward to dive early and slide over the line near the posts, Gordon again converting to complete the scoring.