Comfortable win for new look Aire
By Granville Sellers
Decent performance, but Aire need to focus throughout the game to improve
Aire 67 v Cleckheaton 17
Aire entertained Cleckheaton at Nunroyd park on a blustery and cold Sunday morning. The visitors were short of numbers, so Aire evened it up to 15 a side. Aire were without rested skipper Johnny Ivory and unavailable Miles Sexton, so it was down to new lads Jake Baker and Tom Ayton to stake their claim in the 2nd row engine room. Aire also welcomed debutante Josh Wood, who slotted into the outside centre spot.
Aire got off to a flier when Lewis Rudd Watson made a barnstorming run down the right touch line, making 45 metres before he was eventually hauled down. The ball was recycled and from the resulting ruck, Jake Baker clattered over the gain line & put Aire deep into their opponents territory.Scrum half Freddie Pullan fizzed the ball to stand off Eliot Bunn, who threw a neat pass to Sammy, who raced in for the opening score.
The restart ball found Lewis again, who once more made good ground before he was stopped. The ball was worked from right to left and Aire set up a maul 10 metres out. Eliot snaffled the ball at the back and ran in unopposed for another score. Aire fielded the kick off and flanker Ethan Heede sliced open Cleck's defence making 30m, before being tackled. Again it was quick ball, which Sammy Woodley latched onto and his turn of speed saw him race in for Aire's 3rd. The home team were coasting and some ill discipline and complacency crept in allowing Cleck some territory and possession. Aie had fallen off some tackles and Joe Priestley (loaned to Cleck) waltzed in for Cleck's first try.
Tom "Chelsea" Hirst snaffled the restart and opened up Clecks defence with a powerful run, which led to him scoring a fine individual score. Cleck weren'tabout to roll over and once again Aire's concentration lapsed and some poor tackling allowed Joe to score his second. Aire gathered themselves and added a further 2 unanswered scores before the break.
Aire's scrum was in the ascendancy and a heel against the head by stand in captain Eddie Farnell was fed to the left, for Lewis to barrel over in the corner for a well taken try. Cleck found themselves in Aire territory and Aire had to repel several waves of attack. The ball was recycled 10m out and Eddie was quicker than his team mates getting out of the blocks, which created a gap for a well taken Cleck score to make it 57-17.
Aire lost impressive Eliot Bunn to a shoulder knock, which meant playing the last 20 with 14 men. Aire have been working on lineout variations and used the off the top boom ball to feed Joe Priestley, who charged forward with menace. A half tackle allowed Joe to offload to Sammy,who raced in for another score. Aire were looking good with the ball in hand and new back Josh Wood was at the centre of the action.
Aire once again found themselves trundling forward and a series of strong dives saw them 10m out. Jake Baker was hungry for work and carried hard from a ruck and he dived for the score, but was unfortunately mistaken and dotted the ball on the 5m line. This didn't prevent the ball being distributed to Lewis, who snook in at the corner. After some dazzling dribbling work by prop "Messi" Reeves Aire forced an error, which earned a scrum 20m out to the right. A good strike was gathered by no 8 Joe Priestley, who capitalised on some weak defence to sore the final try. Credit to Cleck for sticking to it and showing heaps of determination and fighting spirit. They are a god bunch and we wish them well for the future.
There were lots of positives from this match, with the handling in the backs being mighty impressive given the strong and swirling wind. The pack looked good at the set piece, but at times ruck was a cause for concern. Prop Vaughan Reeves was strong and power house pair Tom Ayrton and Jake Baker put down a marker in the 2nd row. The backs were fluent with the ball in hand, which allowed the wingers to be an attacking threat. Tom Cutts had his best game for Aire and Jack Higgins was solid in all aspects. Centres Sammy & Josh looked like they'd played together for years and they also put down a marker to others.
Aire will face tougher challenges and will need to work on a couple of areas to sharpen up in defence.