Mikey Hayward in at the double to help Cleckheaton RUFC to vital win

Cleckheaton quickly bounced back from their narrow defeat to Ilkley as they got their promotion bid back on track with a hard fought 16-10 success away to Old Brodleians.

By Tony Harber
Wednesday, 26th January 2022, 8:30 am
Determined defence from Cleckheaton as defenders aim to close down the space on Old Brodleians’ Dan Chappell. Picture: Robin Sugden
Determined defence from Cleckheaton as defenders aim to close down the space on Old Brodleians’ Dan Chappell. Picture: Robin Sugden

Two tries from Mikey Hayward proved the key to victory, but it was a superb defensive effort that was just as important as the Moorenders battled to the final whistle to beat opponents who came into this North One East match in second place.

Cleckheaton are now just two points behind Brods in the table and although they are still in fifth position they are only five points behind leaders Driffield, who lost 31-18 at Morpeth.

Goal kicker Dale Breakwell returned to the Cleck side at fly-half with Dom Brambani moving to centre. Ben Thrower replaced the injured Andy Piper at prop while Thiu Barnard started in the second row and Brad Marsden was on the flank.

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Playing up the slope in the first half, the visitors made early ground with strong runs by Tom Hainsworth and Dom Flanagan, but Brods were able to clear their lines and when they attacked they had an effort ruled out for a forward pass then missed a penalty from 35 metres out in front of the posts.

Cleckheaton came up with a good move as Jack Marshall and Hayward combined only for a last ditch tackle to deny them. The referee brought play back for a penalty, however and Breakwell sent the ball between the posts to open the scoring.

Home pressure followed and was met by stern resistance. Brodleians got over the line only to be held up, but did finally score a try on 36 minutes when Phil Town raced through to score a try he converted.

Cleck had a chance to quickly respond, but Breakwell’s penalty attempt from 40 metres out fell just short. However, they did put some more points on the board with the last act of the first half, Breakwell landing a drop-goal from 30 metres out to make it 7-6 at half-time.

Cleckheaton had the slope advantage for the second half and took just five minutes to score their first try as Flanagan and Brambani combined well to send Hayward over for his 15th try of the season.

It was backs to the wall for a spell following this as the hosts hit them with everything, but some outstanding defence held Brods out.

When the home team was penalised in midfield, Breakwell thumped the kick 50 metres downfield and with line-out possession secured, the ball was swiftly moved across the pitch for Hayward to take a long pass in space to race in for his second try. Although the conversion was again missed Cleck had established a 16-7 lead.

Brods came up against some more fierce defending as they looked to get back in the game. They did trim three points off their deficit with a penalty, but simply could not break the Cleckheaton cover nor their determination.

The result still hung in the balance until the final play when Brodleians had a chance to break away, but knocked on and the ball was booted off the field to ensure an important victory and four league points were Cleckheaton’s.

Another away game awaits this Saturday with Cleckheaton at seventh-placed Moortown, 2.15pm.