DERBY wins are not supposed to come as easy as this.
Brods turned in a third successive below-par away display and Cleckheaton had little difficulty in banking a bonus-point victory, thanks to a sound defensive strategy and a bit of grunt from the forwards.
The hosts led from the fourth minute and although Brods had a chance to draw level at 13-13 late in the first half, a Cleckheaton try just before the break and two more from lineout catch and drive moves in the space of seven minutes midway through the second period settled the outcome.
The injury-hit visitors didn’t have the power to trouble Cleckheaton, particularly once skipper and No 8 Luke Scrimshaw had retired through injury at half time.
Brods’ teenage stand off Danny Wood had no platform to work from and although the visitors recycled plenty of possession, they made little headway as Dave Harrison’s Cleckheaton spread their defence across the field rather than commit bodies to the rucks.
The hosts were much more penetrative when they had the ball, running over the top of Brods in midfield and relying on the forwards to finish the job.
Brods coach Ian Armitage couldn’t fault his men for effort, and thought Rob Jennings and Ollie Akroyd had shown the way.
But he admitted his side “had no plan B” against Cleckheaton’s excellent defence.
Brods regained possession from their kick off and had the ball for the opening few minutes before the Moorend men swept downfield via centre Lee Queeley and scored to the left of the posts through winger Martin Woodhead.
Iain Gordon converted and he and Wood exchanged penalties to leave the score at 10-3 after 14 minutes.
A Gordon drop goal attempt hit an upright but 20-year-old Staffordshire referee Dave Huson had already spotted a Brods offence. Gordon made it 13-3 from the place kick.
The visitors then had their best spell of the game. A Scrimshaw kick made ground, Brods won a lineout against the throw and centre Liam Scott almost made it to the try line. However, hooker Jennings wrestled his way over shortly afterwards.
Wood converted and was narrowly off target with a 35 metre penalty which would have levelled the scores. Instead, Cleckheaton went 18-10 up when Brods were caught out on the short side at a ruck just inside the visitors’ half, Woodhead combining well with James Wilson, who scored an unconverted try.
Brods had a territorial advantage for the first 10 minutes of the second half but then surrendered possession and Cleckheaton quickly made ground.
The home forwards were held up over the try line and the hosts blew scoring chances on both flanks, a forward pass being followed by one which failed to find an unmarked teammate.
Brods were unable to escape, however, and the home side stamped their authority on proceedings with a try from Mark Sargeant and then another from fellow back rower Ed Chappelow. Both came from driving mauls and Gordon added the conversions to make it 32-10.
Cleckheaton appeared to have Brods just where they wanted them, but the visitors responded on the back of a rare break, Jennings setting up young winger Louis Butler to score an unconverted try in the corner on 66 minutes.
However, Cleckheaton refocused and hooker Steve Worsley scored their final try in the right hand corner with eight minutes left after a mix-up in the visitors’ backs had led to Wood coughing up possession.
Gordon slipped attempting the conversion but still managed to get the ball between the posts.