North One East: Bradford & Bingley 7 Cleckheaton 33

WHILE Cleckheaton are eyeing an immediate return to National League Three North, Bradford & Bingley are trying to figure out how to turn possession and territory into points and how to stop collapsing in the final ten minutes.

Cleckheaton, beaten the previous week at Penrith, who they see as favourites for the title, scored three late tries to see off the Bees, who had conceded three tries in the closing stages the first weekend at Driffield.

"Our fitness told," said Cleckheaton's player-coach Mike Swetman as they saw off the Wagon Laners in their North One East derby.

However, Bees skipper Tom Booth disagreed, saying: "It wasn't our fitness because we work hard on that.

"It was our decision-making, and we have to find a way to turn our possession into points as we spent 12 or 13 minutes in their 22 and came away with nothing.

"It could be a long couple of weeks."

A downpour of almost biblical proportions soaked the Wagon Lane pitch just before kick-off, leaving the areas in front of the dug outs awash.

It had ended by the time referee Dave Downham (Central Yorkshire Society) blew his whistle, but the moisture led to a fractured first half as there were so many knocks on, particularly in the opening half-hour.

Cleckheaton winger Mikey Hayward went over on the left after four minutes after the visitors had won back-to-back penalties, and the Bees got lucky five minutes later when Swetman missed an easy kick at goal.

With back-rower Jack Seddon continually making good ground, Cleckheaton, who lost player-head coach Thiu Barnard in the warm-up with a hamstring injury, went 8-0 in front when fly half Ronan Evans landed a 24th-minute penalty.

However, a missed tackle gave Booth the chance to show his paces and make the line in the 33rd minute, fly half Lee Neha adding the conversion.

Evans' missed penalty in first-half stoppage time – Cleckheaton hooker Ben Thrower twice needed treatment for a knee injury – meant that the half-time score remained at 8-7 to Cleckheaton.

However, the hosts, via a neat Neha reverse pass, threatened via centre James Morton early in the second half.

A high tackle on Jack Malthouse gave them further territory, but when they failed to score after being shoved into touch on the left after a period of pressure, the Bees must have wondered whether they would have been better off taking a pot at goal.

Then hooker Matt Cochrane was almost over the line.

After twice being penalised for crossing though, the home side went further behind when Swetman landed a 55th-minute penalty.

The centre was then influential as replacement Cain Crotty went over, Swetman converting.

Cleckheaton rammed home their opportunities when Seddon picked off the ball at the back of a line-out and ran deep into the Bees 22 before offloading for lock Luke Pearson to score.

Crotty's 75th-minute try secured the bonus point, and Evans rubbed salt in the wound with another try three minutes later.

It was a much more clinical display by Cleckheaton than that against Penrith, with Swetman saying: "The three-hour coach journey there didn't help but they took their chances and we didn't."