It was a gloomy day at Scatcherd Lane on Saturday – literally and metaphorically – as 11th placed Cleckheaton beat Morley 30 – 17.
Although both sides scored 3 tries, Morley only gained the additional points from a penalty try whilst the new Cleckheaton stand-off, Dale Breakwell, kicked all 3 conversions and added 3 penalties .
Morley are still struggling with injuries as they have been all season. Ellis, Kenneally, White and Sewell all returned to the team, but that was balanced against the loss of Isherwood, Brown and Flegg from last Saturday’s match at Scarborough. Still waiting in the wings are Chester, Graham, Richmond and Hannam.
But all teams have to live with injuries and the men in Maroon seemed to lack the competitive spirit in their derby match against Cleckheaton. There was a marked lack of concentration at times were careless knock ons brought the end to promising periods of possession.
Morley’s kicking game was much less effective than Cleckheaton’s where Breakwell was a key player in keeping Cleckheaton going forward. There was a clear warning of this threat in the first minute when a good kick from Breakwell had Morley racing back to prevent a try after a clever kick through.
Morley’s main area of dominance was the set scrum and Morley had the chance of 3 points after only 4 minutes when Cleckheaton were penalised. However, White was unable to take the opportunity and Cleck returned to attack. A lack of concentration turned a straightforward move from the visitors into a try scoring opportunity when a missed tackle saw No. 8 Jack Seddon go through in the centre to score by the posts. The conversion giving Cleckheaton a 7-0 lead. A penalty from Breakwell followed 5 minutes later and it was not until 24 minutes into the game that Morley had any sustained pressure.
Cleckheaton weathered the storm and then kicked long. The ball was collected by Bradshaw who fed Jason Kenneally, playing his first game since September 1st. Kenneally’s angled run caught out Cleckheaton as he zig-zagged through the Cleckheaton defence. When he was finally tackled he managed to get the ball away to the supporting Finlay White. A simple dummy and then a sprint to the line from the Cleckheaton 22 saw Morley’s first points on the board as Morley narrowed the score to 5 – 10 on 26 minutes.
Morley tried to continue the momentum and batter their way through the visitor’s line but Cleckheaton were strong in defence. Jacob Percival nearly slipped through and Luke Bradley was only a meter short before being pulled down. It looked as if the first half would end with just the five point deficit but a comedy of errors produced another score for the visitors. A hopeful kick from defence by Cleckheaton was touched by a Morley defender to hand over possession to Cleckheaton. A penalty to Cleck at the throw in saw quick hands with centre Swetman following up and going over after Hayward’s dash for the line had been stopped. Breakwell’s excellent touchline kick saw the half end 17 – 5 in Cleckheaton’s favour.
After the break Morley forwards once again pressurised the Cleckheaton line. A catch and drive was halted, but after two more waves, Dan Percival forced his way over for Morley’s second try on 43 minutes to give Morley hope with the score at 10-17.
However, Cleckheaton began to monopolise possession and despite scrum dominance Morley were giving away penalties at the scrum. From one such penalty Cleckheaton moved the ball downfield quickly and left wing Booth squeezed in for a try and the inevitable conversion from Breakwell. A penalty soon followed and Cleckheaton were in a commanding position 27 -10 after 60 minutes.
Morley tried to get back into the game with good breaks from Graham and Kenneally, but it was the forwards that were the main threat.
The Cleckheaton full back was yellow carded for persistent offences as Morley drove for the Cleckheaton line. Eventually the referee’s patience was used up and he awarded a penalty try as Morley forwards were stopped illegally from scoring.
Was this the start of an un-expected come back. It was not to be. An injudicious remark after another scrum penalty Morley reduced to 14 men and the penalty from Breakwell on 76 minutes saw Cleckheaton move into a 27-10 lead which they comfortably held until the end.
Morley have only a week to get their act together before they face the new league leaders Huddersfield YMCA at the Laund Hill Stadium, Huddersfield HD3 3XF.
Kick off is given as 2.30pm on the YM web site.
Updated 19:43 - 2 Dec 2018 by Dennis Elam
Confirmation will be given later