W 26 - 19
By David Campbell
A cracking North One clash at Silver Royd saw Scarborough stand toe-to-toe with a physical and abrasive Cleckheaton outfit and following a seesaw encounter grabbed a late try for a bonus-point win.
Driving down their left flank from the kick-off, Scarborough scored with their first attack of the game when following pressure on the Cleckheaton line, hooker Sam Dawson powered over with less than a minute on the clock; Fly half Tom Ratcliffe converted for 7-0.
If anyone thought that this early score was an early indication of an easy game to come, they were very much mistaken. The west Yorkshiremen led by their skipper/player/coach Mike Swetman a veteran of a career with several clubs including premiership outfits Sale and Worcester, came straight back at them. The visitors won a lineout midway between the Seasiders’ ten and twenty-two meter lines, the ball was moved infield and inside-centre Matt Piper combined with Swetman to see the latter crash over in the face of some poor tackling by the Scarborough defence. Swetman converted his own effort to level the scores at 7-7 in the 5th minute.
The Scarborough defence had to be on their toes as the powerful visitors looked to run from the base of their own scrum on several occasions with lively scrum-half Jack Bickerdike and No8 Jack Seddon making inroads into Scarborough territory. Time and again they were repulsed by some terrific defence from the home side with second rowers Tom Hicks and Aaron Wilson making their presence felt.
The Scarborough back row of Euan and Drew Govier on the flanks and Ben Martin at No8 played well together and their efforts at the breakdown saw a good supply of ball available going forward. And following good work on Scarborough’s right flank a break by Ratcliffe released Jimmy Perrett who sprinted over in the 22nd minute; Ratcliffe finished what he started, converting for 14-7.
End to end stuff entertained a big Silver Royd turnout and it was no surprise when Cleckheaton levelled the scores having won possession in midfield; Swetman and Piper combining to send fullback James Willson over in the 34th minute; Swetman converted for 14-14 and had a chance to nudge his side ahead just before the break but pulled his penalty kick wide of the uprights.
That Penalty miss was possibly a turning point in the game for almost immediately a break by Perrett down the right touchline released bustling lock Wilson who powered over in the second minute of injury time. Ratcliffe converted for a 21-14 Scarborough lead at the break.
The second half was every bit as exciting as the first but defences held sway as both sides slogged it out. Scarborough introduced prop Alexis Core and the young Frenchman quickly warmed to his task as the scrummaging become more attritional and exchanges in the open became tastier.
Going into the final quarter it looked as if the visitors may just be tiring but with only nine minutes to go a try from wing Keiron Downs following a blistering run down the right touchline closed the gap to 21-19 with the kick to come; however Swetman missed what would have been the equalizing conversion.
Leading by only a couple of points Scarborough piled on the pressure in the Cleckheaton twenty-two in a nail-biting finish but great defence repulsed several surges to the visitors’ line before the ever-alert Sam Dawson saw the tiniest of gaps and powered through it for the clincher deep in injury time. Ratcliffe cramped up and missed his first two-pointer of the afternoon but Scarborough was home and dry at 26-19.
Tries: dawson x 2, perrett, wilson
Conversions: ratcliffe x 3
Tries: swetman, wilson, downs
Conversions: swetman x 2
Scarborough: perrett marshall parker young holloway ratcliffe wakeham cutino dawson jones (capt) wilson hicks e.govier d.govier martin Substitutes: core fowler anderson
Scarborough News "Man of the Match": thomas hicks and aaron wilson
Tom and Aaron worked hard in the engine room providing heft for the scrum and were a revelation in the loose with their dynamism and pugnacity.