Cleckheaton show quality in securing fine away win

Away Days: Richard Piper drives at the Alnwick defence during last Saturday's Cleckheaton's impressive victory on the road as they maintained their lead at the top of North One East .

Away Days: Richard Piper drives at the Alnwick defence during last Saturday's Cleckheaton's impressive victory on the road as they maintained their lead at the top of North One East .

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Cleckheaton racked up a 15th bonus point win of the season, sweeping aside Alnwick to make it a happy return journey from Northumberland.

Alnwick are the most northerly club playing in the English leagues but Cleckheaton were unfazed by the three-hour trip up the A1, avoiding a potential banana skin against a side battling against relegation.

With Ben Thrower and Craig Blackburn carrying muscle strains, James Crowther travelled as 19th man and the decision proved wise as Blackburn pulled up in the warm up, handing Crowther a seat on the bench.

Any fears of an upset were soon dispelled as Cleck dominated from the start.

Richard Piper inevitably opened the scoring when he took a short ball from Jack Bickerdike and powered over. Ross Hayden converted.

Matt Piper followed his twin brother onto the scoresheet when a disguised pass from stand-off Michael Piper put him through.

Matt Piper sold a deft dummy and went between the posts.

Richard Piper added his 24th try of the season and two further Hayden goals put the visitors in control.

Martin Woodhead rounded off the first half, gathering a crossfield kick from Mike Piper and twisted in a tackle to score the fourth try.

Early second half pressure was rewarded when Alnwick’s pack worked their way over the line and hooker Sordy was credited with the try.

Cleckheaton upped the tempo and the introduction of the fresh legs of Alex Dawson, Andy Piper and James Crowther renewed the visitors’ enthusiasm.

Strong drives from Rob Afoa-Peterson forced Alnwick back and after Hayden was held short, Dawson hit a gap at pace and sprinted through to score between the posts.

With what turned out to be the last play of the game, James Wilson shook off a would-be Alnwick tackler, close to the line and strolled over for Cleck’s sixth try.

Cleckheaton remain 14 points clear at the top of the table ahead of Saturday’s game with Wheatley Hills.