HIGH-FLYING Cleckheaton made the trek to face struggling West Hartlepool, but slipped to a shock 20-19 defeat in North One East, losing the game at the last.

Cleckheaton were in the ascendancy in the opening 20 minutes, without troubling the scoreboard. Tom Lillycrop, Josh Plunkett and Gus Milborne all carried well and the ball was getting out to the backs to make more ground.

Olly Depledge made some terrific outside breaks and Matt Piper took the ball forward with his usual style. The first score came on 35 minutes, when Jack Seddon got on the end of Depledge's pass to race some 30 metres to score in the corner.

Dale Breakwell added the extras from the difficult angle to make it 7-0. On 39 minutes, Lillycrop was sin binned and from the resulting penalty, Zac Southern kicked a 25 metre penalty to make it 7-3.

While his side still down to 14 men early in the second half, Mikey Hayward squeezed over the line for his 15th try of the season, but the conversion was missed.

On 49 minutes, after a period of pressure, second row James Borthwick crossed for a Wests try, converted by Southern to reduce the arrears to 12-10.

Ten minutes later, after good forward work, Hayward popped up in midfield to score under the posts. Breakwell added the goal and the lead went out to 19-10.

Lillycrop was then lucky to remain on the field after a no arms tackle, but the referee played advantage and Wests replacement Alex Barker crossed for a try. Southern missed the conversion.

Cleckheaton should have scored a fourth try soon after but the ball was knocked forward with the line in sight.

With time running out, Wests flanker Adam Brown crossed for a fine try. The conversion went wide but the hosts now led 20-19.

There was time for a restart and Cleck felt they should have had a penalty when a Wests player failed to release the ball, but the referee ignored the protests and the game was soon all over.

This was only Wests' fourth win of the season and the joy on their faces said it all.

Cleckheaton need to regroup quickly after this setback, a first defeat in seven games, and it doesn't get any easier, as table-toppers York visit Moorend on Saturday.