Cleckheaton Kestrels 50 - 17 Scunthorpe
An excellent performance all round from the Kestrels secures a well earned victory
Despite the loss of half its regular back line due to 1st team call ups and other unavailability, the Kestrels put in an excellent performance to run seven tries past 2nd in the table Scunthorpe.
Cleckheaton started the game brightly with Luke Haigh, on the first of what would be many occasions, catching the ball from the kick off and setting up a secure platform from which the Kestrels could play some rugby. Scunthorpe were first on the score sheet however, when a converted penalty gave them a 3-0 lead. Cleckheaton responded quickly after being awarded a penalty themselves and Jarrad Toulson gave the home side good field position with a line out 10m from Scunthorpe's line. Ricky Motlib's throw-in found Danny Graham and following a number of drives, with Matt Terry going close, scrum half Mark Fletcher burrowed his way over for a try in the corner. An excellent touch-line conversion from Toulson, improved the score.
Scunthorpe had not travelled over from Lincolnshire with the intention of losing this game and responded with 2 converted tries, sandwiching a Cleckheaton penalty goal, to take a 17-10 lead. From this point on Scunthorpe would not trouble the scoreboard again and the Kestrels would go on to dominate the game. Connor Davis scored his first of the afternoon following good approach work from Sam Crowther, guesting for the day, and more strong running from Liam Goldthorpe, Luke Bashforth and Brad Fraser. Fast hands down the line from Toulson and Patrick Horrigan put Davis in space and a delicate step wrong-footed the opposition wingman for an unconverted try.
Scunthorpe tried to respond with some ranging kicks and one or two chip overs, but all were excellently handled by Lewis Beasty and fullback Chris Mchale. With 5 minutes remaining in the half, Cleckheaton were again defending their line when Danny Graham received a stamp to the face, leading the referee to show one of Scunthorpe's forwards a red card. The last action of the first 40, saw Patrick Horrigan put Cleckheaton into a 22-17 lead, when the Centre ran an excellent line onto a tap penalty and ghosted through the defence. Toulson added the extras.
Luke Bashforth left the field at half time due to injury and was replaced by promising young back rower, Will Denham. The 17 year old plunged straight into the action as Cleckheaton's forwards pressed the Scunthorpe line and Nick Holland picked up from the back of a ruck and pirouetted over for another converted try. Horrigan got his second of the day when a blindside scrum move saw the centre receive the ball and out-muscle his opposite number and then out pace Scunthorpe's fullback. Toulson converted to bring the score to 36-17.
Connor Davies got his 2nd try when fast hands put the wingman in space on the halfway line and he showed the pace to out sprint any would-be chasers to go in under the sticks. Patrick Horrigan completed Cleckheaton's seven try haul when he went in for his hatrick and Toulson converted to bring the final score to 50-17. Horrigan would have improved the score further and brought his own personal points tally to 20 at the very end of the game, but after running round one man and pushing the opposition full back to the floor, he strolled under the sticks and promptly dropped the ball! This act earned the player the 'Richard de la Jour' award for the game's most memorable moment!
This was an excellent performance by the Kestrels and coach Gordon Piper was rightly proud of his charges.