DECEMBER could be pivotal for third-from-bottom OTLEY.

Having started the month with a much-needed 23-17 home win over Macclesfield last weekend, the National League Two North strugglers face home matches against current bottom two Sheffield (Saturday) and Wharfedale (December 23), with a trip to Luctonians sandwiched between.

Otley skipper Freddie Watson admitted: “There was a bit of desperation in that win for us, and we weren’t helped by the bottom two also winning, and December could be a big month for us.

“We scored three early tries as we sought an 80-minute performance, but then we let Macclesfield back into it and we could have lost.

“We have had an inexperienced back line due to injuries, where some old heads would have helped, but we have more strength in depth now and will hopefully have some of them returning after Christmas.

“If those injuries had happened last year, we would have been on our knees, but we still need to be more clinical in closing games out.

“We tend to make some basic errors, such as losing a line-out, and then the pressure is right back on us.”

Seventh-placed CLECKHEATON, buoyed by their thrilling home win over Percy Park last weekend, are at North One East leaders Morpeth this weekend, and have moved Mike Swetman to centre to allow Ronan Evans a start.

KEIGHLEY,who are tenth, are at home to seventh-placed Moortown in Yorkshire Division One, while OLD GROVIANS (fifth) are at Roundhegians (12th) in Yorkshire Division Two.

WIBSEY, who are fourth. have seven players back for their trip to leaders Knaresborough in Yorkshire Division Four North West, and are set to give a debut to Bradford Dudley Hill rugby league star Aiden Batey.

The 'magnificent' seven returnees are Simon Birkbeck, Dave Wilkinson, Scott Taylor, Kyle Carter, Luke Helliwell, Adam Armitage and James Sawyer.

Wibsey's manager Steve Brooke said: "We have beaten Knaresborough the last three times that we have played them – home and away last season and at home this season – but they have signed some rapid Fijians, and Knaresborough are always tough to play against."

Cleckheaton (at Morpeth): J Wilson; M Hayward, M Swetman, Matt Piper, P Foulstone; R Evans, J Bickerdike; P Turner,B Thrower, A Piper, L Pearson, R Piercy, B Marsden, J Seddon, J Plunkett. Replacements: N Jackson, L Darville, J Crowther, N Cherryholme.

Wibsey (at Knaresborough) from: S Birkbeck, J Brown, A Rose, D Wilkinson, M Grimes, S Foulds, J Nall, R Simpson, S Taylor, A Cerson, K Carter, L Helliwell, J Cull, R Goldsborough, B Wright, A Armitage, J Sawyer, R Hall, A Batey.