Wests had a long away trip to Cleckheaton this week, so an early meet time was called, arriving at Archie Rika-Rayne’s first club just in time for sunrise. Wests were boosted by a few returning faces this week, although we were only able to name 4 hookers in the squad this week, falling from last weeks 5.
Wests kicked off attacking away from Greggs and got some points on the board as Rian Hoey kicked a penalty on 3 minutes. 0-3
Normal service was resumed as a catalogue of classic WL errors provided a simple score for Cleckheaton. The kick off, although caught in the sun, was not caught in the pack and this was recovered by the chasing Cleck forwards. An infringement at the breakdown gave Cleck a penalty, which was kicked to the corner. The majestic Dec Penny read the lineout call and turned it over, tapping it down on the WL side – this was also not caught by the WL pack and bounced over the line to be dotted down by Cleck. 5-3
The next score was to be WL however, some strong running from Duane Smith and George Carpenter in midfield setting the tone. Sam Neave was suitably inspired by these events and fancied a carry himself; the Cleck loosehead, spotting a meagre back on the ball fancied a big defensive play and laid down the gauntlet to Captain Neave with his cry of ‘Come on then son’, Sam promptly rose to the challenge and produced the peoples hand off on the prop, putting him on his bottom and breaking the defensive line. WL capitalised on this line break, sending Jack Marshall away in the left hand corner, with an excellent touchline conversion from Rian Hoey adding the extras. 5-10.
Keen to improve on the last received kick off Archie Rika-Rayne used all of his 4 foot 2 inches to rise like a tin of John West Salmon and snaffle the ball, under pressure from two Cleck defenders and produce clean ball for Campbell Breakwell at 9. The ball was spun out to the right hand wing and, having expertly not moved, Dec Penny and George Carpenter were able to break up the left hand side when the ball came back. Dec side stepping a defender rather than running in to them. #SpacesNotFaces
Dec popped off to the supporting George Carpenter, who then offloaded to Cam, who offloaded to Dec – This went on for some time, until Dec was tackled on the home 22 and powerfully protected at the ruck by WL legend Dan Baxter – The line break had done the damage and hands put Jack Marshall in for his second try, joining his brother John Marshall as club joint top try scorer. 5-17
It wasn’t just the forwards who couldn’t catch the ball for the sun however, as Mallo, misjudged a kick and gave Cleck a scrum on the WL 10m line.
The next moment of note was following a lapse in concentration on our own scrum; resulting in a knock on at the base and providing a scrum for the home team on the West Leeds 5m line. Wests had again done well in the scrum this week, Duane Smith, Rab Watt and Archie Rika-Rayne causing problems for the home side – and this showed as Cleck were held at the scrum on the very next play.
Eventually however the defence creaked and Cleck crashed over for a converted try under the posts to take us up to half time.
Half Time – 12 – 17
We spoke at half time of the need to maintain our defensive intensity and play the game in the cleck half, as we had been causing problems at the line out for the home team. Rather than do this though, we decided to give Cleck two more scores early in the half, to fall 24-17 behind.
The coaching staff obviously knew that a change was required to spark something, and emptied the bench, with Scott Coyne, DTR and Tim Pickersgill entering the field. The guys who can’t last 80 minutes, or ‘finishers’ as they like to be called, did make a positive impact, some strong carrying, again from Duane, this week combining his disco spin with the fend of doom, along with John Marshall and Rab Watt taking play up to the half way line.
Jack Marshall, having filled in at flanker last week, was keen to reminisce and started snapping from every ruck within a 30m radius of his left wing spot. The results were mixed to say the least, one pick resulting in him get smashed back 15m, another with him gaining 10m and sitting down a prop. Having had enough of Jacks forays around the ruck, Sam Neave picked the ball and powered over from short range. 24-22
Now that we were right back in the game, we again gave our loyal travelling support some more to worry about, conceding a converted try to take the gap to 9 points with 15 minutes to go. 31-22
The combination of three hookers on the pitch was however paying dividends and having taken play deep into the Cleckheaton 22, the ball was passed to Rian, on to Tom Jackson, who had a 2 on 1 with DTR in support. Jacko decided to try and step the defender, failed, and then shipped the ball out to DTR who crossed in the corner for his first WL try – Crate. 31-27
From kick off WL collected the ball and took play to the home half way line, with not a lot on one of the Cleck forwards then flew into the ruck, from the side and off his feet, Sam Neave stepping out of the way of El Toro and the referee correctly awarding a penalty, which was kicked to the corner.
Patience, as they say, is a virtue, and one which WL have perhaps been lacking in recent weeks when in the 22. This was not a problem this week, the lineout was caught, Dec Penny ran at the line, and despite being stopped short, the ball was retained and Wests worked the phases. Eventually the pressure told, as George Carpenter picked from the side of a ruck and handed off to the supporting Dan Baxter to dot down to the right of the posts. 31-34
Wests were finally back in the lead, much to the delight of Dec Penny, who sought to gee up his pack by letting us know that we were ‘still in this game lads’. Wests collected the ball from kick off, set up a ruck in the 22 and passed the ball to Rian Hoey to kick clear. Several minutes after his kick he was tackled by the Cleck flanker and WL were awarded a penalty where the ball had landed. Unfortunately Rian Hoey had to retire from the game with an injury due to this and we hope that he doesn’t join the list of long-term absentees.
Wests saw out the final 4 minutes, looking after the ball well, to secure a 5 point win, and the first win in what feels like forever.
FULL TIME Cleckheaton 31 – 34 West Leeds
This meant pizza was back on the menu (peperoni, chorizo, red onion, extra mozzarella and a bbq base for those who were wondering) much to the delight of many a WL supporter – and we are grateful to there support throughout the game, and over the past few weeks when things haven’t gone to plan.
Some good performances all round, Duane Smith featuring prominently throughout, Archie Rika-Rayne putting in a big shift at set piece and defence, although no side steps this week unfortunately, Jack Marshall is again able to join John Marshall at the family dinner table this week, Campbell Breakwell and Tim Pickersgill survived a sunny day without bursting into flames and Rab Watt sidestepped a winger (see photos).
WL Man of the match was the ‘lazy’ George Carpenter, presumably for dealing with the heavy pressure of having to play alongside such a mercurial talent as Dan Baxter. Cleckheaton awarded it to Sam Neave, who has now doubled in weight to 6st following his MOTM pie from B&M Collins Butchers.
Finally, there are some great photos from Bev Clough photography, which we have pinched, and they are contactable on 07840 983 055 should you be in the market for a photographer.
Updated 14:24 - 22 Oct 2018 by Daniel Baxter