CLITHEROE put out a strong team at Littlemoor to face the jumbo-sized pack that the visitors Ashton under Lyne brought, but it wasn’t to be enough on the day, as the Manchester side eased to a 24-9 victory.
The home team welcomed back speedy wing man Jordan Wilde onto the right flank, and it was the story of the match when, despite clearly having the legs on his opposite number, he only got the ball in space on a couple of occasions.
The forwards remained intact from the previous week’s excellent showing and deserved their reselection en bloc.
Plus the return of scrum half Dan Smith to chivvy and snipe round the fringes was a plus, allowing the captain Nathan Peel to return to his more favoured centre position.
However, Clitheroe were under the cosh almost immediately.
A penalty conceded directly from the kick-off was fortunately pushed wide.
But worse was to come; Ashton were smelling blood and attacked a rather static and ponderous Clitheroe defence, and almost before the crowd had got settled, they had scored two tries.
Clitheroe regrouped under the posts after the second try and after a few home truths from the captain decided to get into the game.
It was going to be a long old afternoon otherwise.
At last the home team gave the Littlemoor faithful something to cheer about as the ground their way into the Ashton half of the pitch.
A penalty gained, up stepped Martin Lafranceschina to open Clitheroe’s account. 12-3 and now at least they were in it.
Not so fast; another turnover in midfield and Clitheroe were too slow to react, and the visitors were in for another try to make it 19-3 at the turn round, and things looking a bit bleak again.
Back to basics was the call in the huddle, and just keep grafting.
At least the second half was overall not as one -sided on the scoreboard as the first period.
Ashton scored a fourth try but Clitheroe managed another two penalties via the boot of Lafranceschina.
And although man of the match Chris Waddington went within inches of scoring, it was the only real clear-cut scoring opportunity that Clitheroe managed to create.
Ashton were good value for their win and showed why they have only lost once this season, and are set fair for promotion come the season end.
Clitheroe will be disappointed in their overall performance, especially compared to previous weeks.
Somehow they just did not reach the standard they have set themselves.
You could not point the finger at individuals, as it is a team performance when things go well, likewise and conversely it is also when things do not.