Following the frustration of last Saturday’s late cancellation by league opponents Team Northumbria due to a lack of players, Cleckheaton won through to the Yorkshire Cup semi-finals on Tuesday for the second successive year and the third time in the last six seasons.
Cleckheaton and Sheffield have been evenly matched this time as shown by a win for each in the two North One East matches played and a close encounter was envisaged.
A first half marked by great endeavour but a lack of clear direction was highlighted by three well-struck penalties from Cleckheaton’s Iain Gordon and one from the visitors’ fly-half Donal Collins.
In terms of pressure it was Sheffield, who had looked the more likely to break the deadlock, but determined defence kept the home side in the game.
Following a constructive team talk at the break and astute use of seven players on the bench, Cleckheaton began with renewed vigour.
The intensity of the play increased and as a result, team support play improved.
Gordon was just short with a difficult penalty chance but it was a ‘purple patch’ starting in the final quarter of the match which turned the game in the host’s favour.
As the home forwards finally started to impose themselves on their opponents, scoring chances started to emerge.
Substitute Robin Bennett went over for the game’s first try following excellent support play involving six different players. Gordon converted.
Five minutes later Ross Hayden was given a chance to show his finishing ability when another superb piece of inter-play created the position for the full-back to romp over.
Gordon once more converted and then put the game out of Sheffield’s reach with a brilliant piece of individual skill, showing great footwork and pace to score the game’s best try which he failed to convert.
Sheffield never gave up though and were rewarded with a late consolation try from scrum-half Matthew Poste which was converted by Collins.
Cleckheaton are the second side to reach the semi-finals along after holders and National One side Wharfedale. The draw has yet to be made with two quarter-finals involving Huddersfield-Bradford & Bingley and Hull-Beverley yet to be played.