Report by Alan Bentley
Last season both teams met each other at the same stage of the County Cup and the game was a classic, finishing in almost total darkness. This season a similar exhibition was hoped for but the relative differences in the club's league status and the playing records this season overall suggested that Hull would run out easy winners. As it was, for the first hour it looked like a big upset was on the cards with Cleckheaton rising to the occasion totally dominating territory and defending tenaciously with Robin Bennett, Peter Murphy and Richard Piper prominent. The large crowd urged on the home side but it was Hull who took the lead when speedy winger Will Robinson broke through to score the first try wide out. James Cameron missed the difficult conversion.
Cleckheaton soon hit back with an Iain Gordon penalty and shortly afterwards were denied a try themselves when Ross Hayden was adjudged to have put a foot in touch as he rounded the covering defence to score in the corner. At half time the home side, sitting two leagues below their opponents, had optimism as their competitive spirit had obviously taken their opponents by surprise. Iain Gordon missed with a long range penalty effort but two minutes later a slick move in midfield gave winger Martin Woodhead the space to power over for an excellent try which was unconverted. Gordon extended Cleckheaton's advantage with another penalty and at that point Hull used their strong bench of replacements to intensify their attacking options.Tries from Lewis and Fernhead both of which were unconverted put the National Two side back into the lead. However, the brave Cleckheaton battlers were not finished and Johnno Marshall was pulled down short of the line by desperate defence as it appeared that he may win the tie for the home side.
This was a fantastic performance from the enigmatic Cleckheaton side, brave, aggressive, characterful and builds promise for a promotion effort next season. As for Hull; they will be grateful to squeeze through to the final which will be at York next Wednesday against National One side Wharfedale.