This weeks visitors to Laund Hill were local rivals Cleckheaton, who came with their usual enthusiastic contingent of supporters and a desire to do the double over the YM who they beat at Moorend earlier in the season. A keenly contested affair was expected and the crowd were not disappointed with what followed.

There was a little anxiety in the YM ranks as injuries and unavailability had robbed them of the services of a number of key players and that was particularly the case in the front row, where Harry Scholes and Sean Barrett were asked to stand in for the experienced Stu Dyke and Sam Slater. As it turned out both went well and the scrum managed to hold its own for most of the afternoon.

The early pressure in the game came from the visitors, who had two opportunities to open the scoring from penalties. However, luckily for the YM they failed to find the target on both occasions, leaving it to YM’s Gavin Stead to get the home side on the board first, with a well struck penalty after Cleck had been adjudged to have held on after the tackle. 3-0

This was followed by Steads second successful attempt some minutes later after Cleck had been caught offside at the ruck 6-0

The visitors came back into the game and got themselves in the points with a Breakwell penalty when on this occasion the YM had got on the wrong side of the referee by rushing forward in an offside position. 6-3

The YM came back onto the attack and after yet another offside decision against Cleckheaton, their full back James Wilson was sent to the bin as an example as the referee sought to stamp his authority on the match.

As the half ticked away Cleckheaton were on the attack and were the recipients of a stroke of good fortune, as not one but two blatant forward passes were missed. The cry of “forward pass” which rose in a chorus from the stands was ignored by the referee who waved play on, allowing the Clecks left winger Mikey Hayward to scoot to the line and claim a try which Breakwell converted to give the visitors the lead for the first time in the game. 6-10

Both teams continued to probe for weaknesses but no further scores were added before the half time whistle.

Half time 6-10

From the restart the YM brought play upfield with the tireless Ed Black and Ben Hill continually looking to drive the ball into the heart of the visitors defence. Ably assisted by the other pack members good ground was made and the forward pressure told as Sam Hodge came up from under a pile of bodies to claim a try for the YM. Stead couldn’t add the extras but once again the YM had a narrow lead. 11-10

The offsides continued and on this occasion Clecks back rower Josh Plunkett fell foul of the referee and was given 10 minutes in the bin.

With an extra man on the pitch the YM started to get the better of the encounter and after a well set YM scrum the ball was whipped out by Bradley into the path of Gavin Stead who came through like an express train to sprint to the line untouched. His conversion from under the posts was a formality. 18-10

The YM then had their turn to fall foul of the referee as their winger Tetley was yellow carded after a high tackle, allowing Breakwell the opportunity to get is side back in the game. 18-13

Nerves were steadied moments later when Stead safely landed another YM penalty to give his side a little breathing space. 21-13

The final few minutes of the game saw the YM in charge. They had a couple of goes at the Cleck line and at one stage were held up unable to get the ball down to claim the try.

Eventually after some strong work in the forwards the ball found its way down the short side where it was taken up by hooker Ben Hill. Having beaten the cover for pace he then sprinted down the touchline to get the final score of the day and put his side out of touch. 26-13

In the final minutes the YM pressed for the bonus point try but found it elusive, leaving the referee to call time on what had been a tough uncompromising encounter but ultimately a good win for the YM.

Final score 26-13

Unfortunately the final score was not enough on aggregate to wrest the John Bower trophy from Cleckheatons grasp, so the trophy will reside at Moorend, for this season at any rate.

Team; Burnett, Tetley, Van Rooyen, Stead, Clough, Bull, Bradley, Barrett, Hill, Scholes, Housley, Black, Hodge, Garside, Lumb

Interchange; Tindall, Davidson