GOING into this fixture, the Regional One North East table painted a sorry picture for Cleckheaton – played five, lost five, points one.

However, in a result that will have had pundits spluttering into their post-match pie and peas, Cleckheaton notched their first win of the season in emphatic fashion.

They demolished high-flying visitors Doncaster Phoenix 53-16, a remarkable result given the South Yorkshire side had won four of their five league games.

Cleckheaton largely bossed the whole match, scoring three tries in the first half and five in the second.

Although the win didn’t move Cleck off the bottom, it did put them within touching distance of Scunthorpe, Sandal and Pontefract.

Cleckheaton’s head coach Gareth Lewis said: “The general attitude and belief was there from the word go.

“The lads have put two weeks of hard training together and, despite a disappointing opening five games, the team spirit has been there.

“The energy levels, the speed of ruck, the physicality was there, and our fly half Dale Breakwell managed the game superbly.

“His kicking was first class, which is what I had heard about before I arrived but not quite seen consistently over the first five games, but he was outstanding here.”

As for the issues up to this point, Lewis admitted: “Availability was something to do with it, such as not having our first-choice back line available in the opening three rounds, and we had one or two new faces, but we tweaked our game plan slightly and this was an example of our hard work coming to fruition.

“We worked towards what we call our magic 15, which is keeping 15 players on the field and keeping the opposition under 15 points.

“We did concede 16 and got one yellow card, but it was an improvement defensively and our discipline was a big factor in us winning the game.

“It was a massive team effort from all 18 players, so I don’t want to single anyone out as that would be unfair, and they have done the club proud.

“We decided to play to the corners and learnt some lessons from the way that Alnwick played here a few weeks ago in more challenging conditions than this.

“Our skill level and ball retention was very good.”

Lewis added: “Now that we have shown what we are capable of this needs to be the springboard going forward.

“We were very much the underdogs here, but we relish that role and it will send a couple of shockwaves down the league.

“This is a good league with good teams though, and anyone is capable of beating anyone else.”

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Cleckheaton have got their season going after a poor start.Cleckheaton have got their season going after a poor start. (Image: Gerry Christian.)

Cleckheaton were quick out of the blocks and went ahead in the third minute from a fluent move that was finished by full back James Wilson, with Breakwell adding the conversion.

However, a clearance that was charged down put the hosts on the back foot, leading to a penalty that was converted by winger Tom O’Brien.

But the home side didn’t dwell on that, extending their lead in the 12th minute with a try on the left by flanker Brad Marsden, Breakwell hitting the near upright with the conversion attempt.

The visitors lost Joe Gomes with a dislocated shoulder in trying to prevent that try and, after good covering by Wilson, Cleckheaton made it 15-3 with a 25th-minute Breakwell penalty.

O’Brien then missed a kickable penalty before making amends past the half-hour, but Cleckheaton responded with a try by prop Andy Piper from one of the 13 penalties conceded by the visitors, Cleckheaton conceding eight.

Breakwell’s conversion gave them a healthy 22-6 advantage, but visiting hooker Sam Fell reduced the deficit with an unconverted try on the stroke of half-time.

However, any thoughts of Phoenix rising from the ashes were soon dispelled in the second half.

A minute into the second stanza, scrum half Dominic Howarth scored for Cleckheaton after a catch and drive.

Breakwell was again Jonny on the spot with the conversion, and there were soon howls of frustration from home supporters when they thought that referee Sam Potts had missed a Breakwell 50-22.

No matter. Cleckheaton attacked fluidly from left to right to put winger Ollie Lightfoot over five minutes after the interval.

Phoenix responded with an O’Brien try in the 50th minute, Cleckheaton then losing prop Niall Jackson to a yellow card for collapsing a scrum.

But these were only temporary setbacks as tries followed for Howarth on the right, hooker Ben Thrower from a pushover try on the left and No.8 Richard Piper from a catch and drive, also on the left.

Breakwell converted that final effort to complete a thoroughly satisfactory afternoon for the red and whites.

Elsewhere, depleted Keighley slipped to fourth in Counties One Yorkshire with a 24-5 loss at leaders West Leeds, while Bradford & Bingley remain bottom and winless, despite a battling 32-15 defeat at high-flying Pocklington.

Finally, Baildon dropped to fourth in Counties Two Yorkshire, suffering a heavy 48-24 home defeat to Roundhegians.