Contrasting Cleck and Bees are on the road

Phil Woodhead

Phil Woodhead

First published in Sport
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CLECKHEATON and Bradford & Bingley start their brave new worlds on Saturday, albeit after contrasting campaigns.

While Cleckheaton were winning SSE North One East last season, the Bees were being relegated to level six, thereby denying their fans two lucrative National League Three North derbies.

With Ryan Piercy out with a broken leg, Cleckheaton have included former Old Brodleian Danny Vento at flanker for the trip to Firwood Waterloo, Ollie Akroyd continuing his pre-season second-row partnership with Alex Dawson.

Considering the Bees were demoted, their side at Dinnington is relatively strong, with debuts for rugby league imports Adam Mitchell at fly half and Harry Hall in the centre.

Simon Hill props in place of Jason Moss, who has moved to Otley, but returning flanker Tom Cokell is unavailable.

Last season’s three newly-promoted clubs were all relegated from SSE National League One at the first time of asking.

Whether that is likely to happen again this season, Wharfedale will soon find out as they play two of them in the opening weeks.

A week on Saturday, they face Darlington Mowden Park at home, while on Saturday the Greens are at Hartpury College, who are a conveyor belt of young talent for Gloucester.

The home side will present a real test of Wharfedale’s credentials after what ended up as a training run-out last week at Otley.

The Dalesmen welcome back Philip Woodhead, returning from extramural duty as a guest for the successful Leicester Tigers sevens team, at full back.

Three newcomers should gain their first experience of national league rugby as centre Cameron Hudson starts, while Anthony Oxley and Matt Van Sertima are on the bench. Lock Simon Willet, late of Otley, also plays, while Will Bell returns at fly half.

Wharfedale (at Hartpury College): P Woodhead; S Jordan, C Hudson, T Davidson, O Cicognini; W Bell, J Doherty; M Beesley, I Larkin, J Armstrong, S Willet, R Rhodes, J Burridge, R Baldwin, C Howick. Replacements: J Altham, D Stockdale, A Howard, A Powell, M Van Sertima.

Cleckheaton (at Firwood Waterloo): R Hayden; M Woodhead, L Queeley, Matt Piper, J Wilson; Michael Piper, J Bickerdike; P Turner, B Thrower, A Piper, A Dawson, O Akroyd, R Afoa Peterson, R Piper, D Vento. Replacements: T Austin, C Thompson, G Turton.

Bradford & Bingley (at Dinnington): R Scull; A Wellington, R Tafa, H Hall, J Morton; A Mitchell, K Arundale; S Hill, M Cochrane, R Wederall, B Mitchell, H Jeffrey, D Barden, T Cummins, C Fisher. Replacements: L Helliwell, plus TBA.

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