CLITHEROE entertained high-flying Chorley at Littlemoor on Saturday with full squad and a fine balance of players.
And with the pitch looking at its best for many a week after midweek work on it, they were confident of entertaining the home crowd. Blustery, torrential rain in the warm up did little to dampen spirits within the squad.
Clitheroe kicked, and Chorley caught to set the ball up nicely after some aggressive tackling from Rigby and Chamberlain. A recent influx of rugby league players into the Chorley ranks has given their back line even more direct running lines, and they used these to good effect to get into the Clitheroe half.
A transgression at the breakdown and some quick thinking from the Chorley pack saw their bulky forward charge on from a quick tap penalty to score, with the try converted.
Chorley were buoyant and began to run the ball back with a vengeance. Clitheroe met the attacks with resolution and were organised in their defensive effort.
Good defensive play in their own half gave Clitheroe the ball at a turnover and they looked to attack. However, a mix up in the ranks saw the ball spilled and Chorley snaffled it up and broke the gain line to score under the posts.
Suddenly Clitheroe were looking at a 14-point deficit and needed to knuckle down.
This they did, and the pressure told with Clitheroe awarded a penalty which was duly converted.
The ascendancy of the Maroon and Gold was shortlived as Chorley pressed again to score in the corner, and they went into the half time break with a 19-3 lead.
Stark words from the coach during the break give Clitheroe the wake-up call they needed, and some changes gave the home team some fresh legs, with Jim Smith replaced by Atkinson and Keough by Kino.
Clitheroe started to play better rugby as the half progressed, with good defence and first time tackles being made, they started to claw their way into the Chorley half.
With an excellent pick and drive game beginning to pay dividends, they progressed into the Chorley 22 metre area, Chorley transgressed and Clitheroe opted to continue running at the defence, with their persistence rewarded with a try for Kino after some excellent drives from Hough, Atkinson and Graves.
The score clawed back to a more reasonable 19-8, Clitheroe looked to attack further, with 20 minutes remaining.
The backline were now running hard and fast into Chorley territory, ably backed up by the forwards.
However, open to the counter attack, Chorley scored a breakaway try in the corner to extend their lead, and a further try with five minutes to go made it 29-8.
This weekend Clitheroe face the tough trip to Carnforth, where they will be looking for a disciplined game to take on the Carnforth attack.
Colne and Nelson 2nds 27, Clitheroe 2nds 19
Clitheroe travelled over the hill to Colne in the hope of doing the double over their closest league rivals.
Clitheroe started brightly and were first on the score sheet as centre Bleasdale, on leave from University, sprinted away to score a splendid try after solid work by the pack.
The visitors kept up the pressure, and following a fine turnover and good rucking from Firth and Shread out wide, number eight Farnsworth drove to a few metres of the line before offloading to goal hanger Wilkinson, who promptly flopped over, Ashton-esque, to score Clitheroe’s second.
Gretton took on the kicking duties and scored with aplomb to take Clitheroe into a 12-0 lead.
Colne and Nelson hit back strongly before the end of the half after Clitheroe lost centre Shread to a broken nose, and they scored to take the game to 12-5 at half-time.
At the start of the second half, Colne used their backs and forwards well in combining to score quickly to level the scores.
That said, in one of the few forays into the Colne half in the second period, a good platform was made by the forwards to set up the backs to run free.
James Harvey stepped well in midfield, evading a couple of tacklers to score Clitheroe’s third and final try, and following Gretton’s excellent conversion, Clitheroe had taken the score to 19-12.
For some reason, the wind came out of the Maroon and Gold sails.
Substitute Nuttall fought for all he could together with a number of other forwards, but they couldn’t stem the tide of black shirts pouring through the defences.
Colne scored two good tries in fairly quick succession and a final penalty moved the game beyond Clitheroe’s reach.
This Saturday, Clitheroe have a home game against Bolton 4ths at Littemoor.
Clitheroe Under 15s travelled to Burnley on Sunday morning for their first game of 2012, and went down 22-14.
Clitheroe started a little rusty as a result of their enforced lay-off, and Burnley scored two tries in rather quick succession.
The youth team knuckled down and put some of their training ground work into action.
A strong scrum, with Ben Dyer and Josh Gilloway propping at each side, gave the Maroon and Gold lads a good few balls against the head, which number eight Conor McEntyre charged up the pitch with, aided and abetted by back row flankers Lewis Moir and Jack Caswell.
Joe Crowther had moved into the scrum half position, and he fed the ball to the long-striding Jamie Allen, who scored and Clitheroe also took the conversion.
Again the Maroon and Gold boys pressed, and this time after a series of good drives, notably from second row powerhouses George Wrathall and Issac Tramner, Curtis Noone scored after smashing the ball over the line.
Again the kick was taken and Clitheroe went into the half time break leading 14-12. After the break Burnley came out strong, and it was only aggressive tackling from Matt Mercer, Douglas Airton and James Lynch that held the hosts at bay.
Some great pressure gave Clitheroe chances to extend their lead, with hooker Jordan Blane popping up in the back line on a couple of occasions only to be hauled down just short.
Lack of recent action began to tell and Burnley finished the stronger with two tries in the final five minutes to win 22-14, but the sparks of a good team are there for this promising squad of lads.
Following the previous week’s draw against Garstang, Clitheroe’s Mini Rugby kids followed up with a comfortable 13-7 away win at Burnley.
Rain and sleet in the first half did not unduly upset Clitheroe, who established good early tempo, and quick passing distribution from midfield using the diamond restart formation they have been working on in training.
Try scorers were Chris Williams with five, Jonny Wardle with four and one each for Roger Stansfield, George McClellan - his first competitive try for the club, Grace Nuttall, Clitheroe’s youngest player at six, and Rory Campbell.
Campbell’s try exemplified the strong team spirit of this young Clitheroe side.
In the final minute, Wardle cleared out a loose ball from behind his own goal line after strong Clitheroe defence work, before breaking out on the blind side into open space, before drawing the defence and setting up a full length of the pitch score.