CLECKHEATON chairman Neil Gillan is disappointed that his team cannot now fight to go up via the play-offs, but knows they could have secured promotion anyway if they had had a better away record.

Last Friday, the Rugby Football Union announced the final placings for levels three to 12, after using a points formula based on home and away records.

This left Cleck second in North One East, a position they occupied before the season was ended early.

That finish would have usually earned them a one-off game against whoever finished as runners-up in North One West.

However, with the play-off being scrapped, the final promotion spot has been handed to the second-placed side who finished on the most points.

That was North One West's Northwich, who ended on 93.95, compared to the Bradford side’s 85.15.

Although Gillan agrees with how the leagues were finalised, he still thinks Cleck could have made up the points difference if they had had the chance.

He said: “Given the circumstances, it is a fair way and we accept the decision.

“In effect, there are five or six easy beats in their league and in our league, more or less anyone can beat anyone on their day.

“We would have relished that game (against Northwich). You don’t know what is going to happen with your unplayed games either.

“We had three away games left and one at home, so if you look at the final table standings, that is why Moortown (85.09) got very close to us.”

Gillan knows that if Cleck’s away form had been better, then it would have been them playing in North Premier next season.

He added: “We lost to three of the bottom four away this season.

“We lost to Pocklington in the very last second of the game and we lost to both West Hartlepool and Durham away, which were two games we were winning until the last 10 minutes.

“In effect, we let promotion slip through our fingers. If we'd won those two games, we would have finished higher than Northwich and been promoted.”

Nevertheless, the Cleck chief was keen to praise his club for their efforts this campaign and hopes they can go one step further when rugby is safe enough to resume next term.

“It has been a fantastic season,” Gillan said. “We would have snapped anybody’s hand off if they had said 'would you accept second place?' to us.

“Top half was a target, top four was an achievement and we finished second, so that is good.

“It is hard to plan. We are looking to keep things more or less the same and keep all the current players. That is all we can do, because there is so much uncertainty on when things will kick off again.”