CLECKHEATON travelled to North Dean on a grey and miserable day for a derby against Regional One North East leaders Heath and came away with a superb 23-16 away win.

The Moorend men put in a sterling team effort to take the spoils, with top drawer defence for the third week in a row and a sublime man of the match performance, from fly-half Dale Breakwell.

Breakwell opened the scoring on the five-minute mark with a superb drop goal from 40 metres out.

If the Heath crowd thought this was any kind of fluke, then there was more of this to come as Cleck’s No.10 surpassed the 2,500 point mark in senior rugby in cracking style.

Heath spent the next 15 minutes of the game in Cleck’s final third but could not convert territory into points as the visitors defended manfully.

Thiu Barnard, Andy Piper and captain Richard Piper all put in some big shots to send the attackers backwards from close quarters, while Niall Jackson and Joe Flanagan were just forward tackling machines in the loose.

Cleck’s lineout was functioning well, with Robin Bennett hitting the mark and Brad Marsden superb at disrupting Heath’s set piece.

It was from one such fumbled Heath line out that Cleckheaton broke away.

Jack Marshall sprinted down the left wing and kicked through, and the Heath full-back produced a costly knock-on.

With possession deep in Heath territory, Cleck recycled the ball for a few phases before Breakwell saw he had the room and slotted over a second drop goal to take Cleck into a 6-0 lead.

Dom Brambani was sent to the bin on the 30 minute mark for Cleckheaton, with the referee having enough of the visitors consistently conceding penalties.

The home side enjoyed a lot of possession but could not break Cleckheaton down until they slotted a drop-goal in front of the posts, making the score 6-3 at half-time.

After another bout of penalties early in the second half, Heath opted for goal again and levelled the scores on the 48-minute mark.

Ben Thrower and Rich Noble entered the fray at this point for Cleck and the visitors soon moved back in front.

Breakwell struck the ball on a narrow angle from his own 40-metre line, over the head of the Heath full-back to find touch well inside Heath’s 22, handing Cleckheaton a lineout.

The ball was caught cleanly and spun out to the backs.

Cleck’s supporting forwards drove the ball on, and almost over the line.

Heath scrambled to defend, but in doing so, the ball squirted out of the ruck into Heath’s in goal, where Olly Depledge dived on it for the first try of the game.

Breakwell added the extras to make the score 13-6 to the visitors.

Five minutes later, Cleckheaton extended their lead.

Heath spilled the ball on the halfway line and Brambani picked up, threw a dummy and sprinted through a gap.

He fed Mikey Hayward, who kicked towards the try line for Marshall to chase.

The Heath winger just got there before the Cleck winger could touch down, but from the ensuing dropout, Breakwell gathered the ball 40 metres out and calmly slotted his third drop goal of the day, putting his 10 points in front with 20 minutes left to play.

Heath pressed hard from the restart and once again the visitors were reduced to 14 men, as Joe Flanagan was dispatched to the bin.

Cleck’s defence remained strong though, with young full-back Bailey Smith once again showing his tremendous potential.

Second rower Josh Plunkett was also immense during this tricky period, but Heath did manage a three-pointer to move with a converted try of Cleckheaton.

Not long after the restart, with the visitors still a man down, Heath got themselves deep into Cleck’s territory and bashed over for a try.

The conversion was initially missed but the referee allowed the Heath kicker another attempt, as a Cleck player sprinting out to charge at the conversion had allegedly said something to put his opponent off.

The second attempt was successful and it levelled the scores.

But Cleckheaton had spent much of the game in front, and were determined to end it that way too.

Heath were in possession with 10 minutes on the clock and attempted a box kick near the middle of the park, but Breakwell got his hands to it and gathered the charge down.

A superbly weighted kick to the left corner from the stand-off saw Cleck winger Marshall and his opposite number for Heath set off in pursuit,

Marshall got there first, gathered the ball and dived over the whitewash with it.

A difficult conversion followed but it was Breakwell’s day and the ball sailed through the uprights from the touchline, giving the Moorenders a seven-point cushion.

A tense final few minutes followed before the referee called time on an exhilarating game.

Both teams played their part in a thrilling contest, but it was Cleckheaton who took away the four points, and they will look to continue their promotion tilt at home to mid-table Ilkley this weekend.

Elsewhere last Saturday, Bradford & Bingley remain winless in Regional Two North East after losing 36-12 at Pocklington, while Baildon are just three points off the Counties Two Yorkshire summit after a superb 39-20 victory at Ripon.

In Counties One Yorkshire, Keighley won their derby at home to Bradford Salem, with Bill Marshall's report currently live on the T&A website.