CLITHEROE’S good run of form came to an end in their penultimate game of the season on Saturday.
Clitheroe fielded a strong select squad and looked to take advantage of the tailwind with some excellent kicks over the defensive line from Peel, Watson and Lafranceschina, whilst Ashton looked to keep the ball in hand and run back down the pitch.
Ashton opened the scoring after a penalty was awarded in front of the posts after 15 minutes.
The yellow card that followed for Lafranceschina appeared harsh, but the Ashton pack caught Clitheroe napping as the two props bustled over in the corner, as Ashton spurned the kick at goal for the easy three points.
Within minutes Ashton again pressed the Clitheroe line, and from a powerful scrum they looked for the push over try. As they neared the line, Clitheroe looked to kill the ball, and the referee had no option but to award the penalty try.
The Maroon and Gold men ended the second quarter in command, although Ashton still threatened coming forward from loose ball.
The half ended with Clitheroe threatening the Ashton line, and some desperate defence by the home team only kept the Maroon and Gold out.
With the wind in their faces for the second half, Clitheroe got plenty of high ball over the top from Ashton, who chased it with fine style - only the odd forward pass or dropped ball in the face of great defence from Clitheroe keeping them out, especially the back three of Sam Thornber, Lafranceschina and Birch.
An injury to Jim Smith saw Thornber move into the pack, with the bulky, hard-running presence of Aaron Shread on the wing, who made good ground with the ball he got in a tight space.
Ashton put Clitheroe under pressure from an overhead kick, and as the gathering Maroon and Gold man regained his feet and drove forward, the referee deemed that he should have released the ball before picking up again and driving.
The penalty was quickly taken and again Ashton scored out wide, for a 17-0 lead.
Two or three kickable penalty chances were spurned by Clitheroe in the search try scoring opportunities – with Waddington and Peel in the centres looking threatening and Andrew Thornber and Arron Dixon looking hungry to carry ball in the pack.
As the pressure mounted, Ashton’s defence became ragged and breached the referee’s liking once too often, with a couple of yellow cards for holding on to the ball on the floor and the tackler not rolling away.
However, despite finishing the stronger Clitheroe couldn’t convert the possession and position into points.
Clitheroe will look to close their season out with a win against Newton-le-Willows on Saturday at Littlemoor.
The seconds were also shut out as they lost 67-0 at home to BAe Warton.
Right from the off, Clitheroe received the ball but immediately turned it over and BAe’s game plan went into action, the ball being spun wide to their speedy back line, and the inside centre cutting a smart line to score a good try.
The game descended into a niggly affair, and players from both sides went way beyond the laws of the game, particularly one, who made an impression with more than just the good running rugby he was certainly capable of.
Unfortunately for the home team, most of the illegal play was deemed to have been executed by Clitheroe, and throughout the game they had three players sin-binned, with two in the bin at one point.
Clitheroe came close to scoring on a few occasions but must take some positives by the way they stuck at the task, particularly in the shape of Giz WIlliams and Steve Dowson, two old war horses playing against a team of relative youth.
Stott, Hayton and Harley also merit a mention for their tenacity in defence.
However, Williams who took the man of the match award, kindly sponsored by the Emporium Clitheroe, for his never-say-die spirit.
On Saturday, all 60-plus players who’ve turned out for the second team through the season are invited to enjoy some refreshments whilecheering on the first XV in their final league game of the season.
The final match of the season will be the President’s Match on Saturday, May 12th, when the club’s President, Colin Silcock, will watch his Select XV play the first team in the annual fixture for the Nick Hopwood Memorial Trophy.
This will be Ollie McEntyre’s final game as first XV captain after three fine years at the helm.
The following Saturday sees the club’s annual dinner.
Please contact Bob on 07962 099935 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org to book tickets.