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Wharfedale's response delights coach Jon Feeley as Cleckheaton outpaced
Buy this photo Wharfedale centre Tom Davidson scored two tries in the opening 33 minutes
Wharfedale 54, Cleckheaton 15
Cleckheaton, admittedly shorn of four key players, found out about the speed of foot and speed of thought in national league rugby in this Yorkshire Cup quarter-final.
The visitors, who were missing player-coach Rob Afoa Peterson, lock Grant Turton, hooker Ben Thrower and the suspended Richard Piper, conceded eight tries to a home side that only included eight first-team squad members in their 22.
Cleckheaton skipper Matt Piper, who tried as hard as anyone make an impression for the Moorenders via some hard yards with ball in hand, said: “The previous week we scored over 50 points, whereas this week we condeded over 50 points.
“This week we had to go to our Plan B and throw the ball wide, and that is where we made mistakes.
“Some of them were in their 22 and they capitalised but it is credit to us that we kept going right to the end.”
Cleckheaton president Alan Bentley added: "You have to remember that these Wharfedale lads must be ready to step into level-three rugby, whereas we only play level six."
After losing five successive matches in SSE National League One, during which they have conceded 170 points, Wharfedale coach Jon Feeley was looking for a statement from his players - and got it.
He said: “I was delighted. There were some people out there who were playing for their places and I was extremely pleased with the response.
“Tom and Will Davidson marshalled the midfield defence well, and winger Taylor Prell was also impressive after coming on, and he isn’t 18 yet.”
Cleckheaton, who only need 13 points from their last four matches to be assured of the SSE North One East championship, started the better, with Jack Bickerdike lively at scrum half and fly half Michael Piper putting in a testing grubber that forced Wharfedale to concede a line-out on their left.
But the hosts, whose side were mainly made up of their potent Foresters outfit, went ahead in the sixth minute in simple but clinical fashion.
Centre Tom Davidson made the initial break and found his brother Will on his left shoulder, who carved through to the line equally easily for full back James Druce to convert.
"It is the first time that we have played together as when I was leaving the sixth from at school, he was just coming into the sixth form," explained Tom. "He owes me a pint for that pass!"
Excellent ball retention led to Cleckheaton responding with a try in the 12th minute, lock Ryan Piercy getting the touchdown on the left, but five minutes later Tom Davidson was over centrally for his second try, fly half Will Bell’s kick diverting neatly off a post-protecting pad.
There was a curiosity after flanker Josh Burridge’s try in the 21st minute following a catch and drive from a line-out, referee Chris Binnie stopping play before Druce had attempted his conversion, saying that the full back had taken too long.
Possibly unnnerved by that decision, Druce then spilled a high kick, Cleckheaton winger Martin Woodhead gobbling up the ball after it bounced and then just having enough strength to make the line through some converging traffic.
Although Burridge and scrum half Jimmy Bullough, after No 8 Alex Powell picked up from the base of a scrum, added tries for Wharfedale before half-time, the visitors hit back with a try by second row Josh White to make the interval score 33-15.
Cleckheaton were now playing downhill and knew that they needed the first score to claw their way back into the match.
However, a knock-on by centre Ollie Depledge from a pass that was far from ideal gave Wharfedale the counter-attacking opportunity that they seemed to relish from deep in their own 22 in the 52nd minute.
The ball was moved left and then right before hooker Luke Cole - not for the first time in the match - threw a delightful dummy, and scored himself.
The second half was rather disjointed as both sides made use of their seven replacements and there were frequent interchanges but Bullough got his second try, and replacement hooker Dan Stockdale also scored after Cleckheaton prop Paul Turner was needlessly sin-binned by the referee.
Druce’s excellent conversions apart - he landed seven from eight - the main talking point of the second half was the sheer pace and balance of the orange-booted teenager Taylor Prell, the England under-18 international showing that if you are good enough, you are old enough.
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