CLITHEROE had their hopes of victory crushed by a rampant Eagle, whose superior support play was the stand out feature of a bruising encounter.
Although Clitheroe still have a number of players still absent holidaying and cricketing, they were still able to raise what, on paper, was a decent-looking squad.
With the club captain away, lock forward Ross Chamberlain led the side for the first time. The pack had a settled look about it, so much so that returning second row-cum-flank forward Ralph Rigby had to be content with a place on the bench.
Chris Waddington, Smith and Bicky Dickinson all made their first starts of the season in the back line.
A firm, dry playing surface was perfect for running rugby, and the match started at a decent lick. Both sides sizing each other up for the opening period, probing for the openings.
And it was the home side that drew first blood, scoring two tries in quick succession.
Clitheroe then suffered grievously, when influential flanker Rick Slinger had to leave the field with a groin strain. Alex Bolton went on to deputise on the side of the scrum.
Eagle nabbed a few more tries to seal the game up before the interval.
But this seemed to spur the maroon and golds on, and their best period of the game was directly before half-time and the following twenty minutes afterwards.
A fine individual try from scrum half Smith, with Dickinson on hand with the extras, gave them some confidence going into the break.
Rigby came on at loose forward, and with renewed vigour, the visitors spent long chunks of the second half in opposition territory. But Eagle were resolute in defence and sniffed out any openings for a counter attack, which they capitalised on with aplomb; their scrum half being the architect of all that was good and a thorn in Clitheroe’s side all afternoon.
For the second week on the trot Clitheroe’s fitness kept them competing till the end. But the support runners, off loading in the tackle and powerful running were the downfall for the plucky town team.
The pressure now is unrelenting – the first home league game is this Saturday – Crosby St Mary’s RFC are the visitors to Littlemoor (kick-off 3 p.m.).
FINAL SCORE: Eagle RFC 59, Clitheroe RFC 7
CLITHEROE seconds got off to a winning start on Saturday.
After a steady year last year, thew locals were hoping for much more as they started this season’s league campaign.
With some younger faces in the first XV, the seconds have been strengthened by some of the more experienced players in the club.
Captain Bob Wilkinson certainly had a much stronger hand to play than at the same time last season, and was also blessed with some significantly talented younger players too.
Club captain for the previous three years Ollie McEntyre turned up for duty as normal, but this time without the worry and time-consuming requirements of fulfilling any other role than that of number eight.
He was joined in the older generation department by last year’s second XV player of the year Paul Procter, second row Dowson, flanker Kiwi Harper and evergreen backs Simon Gretton and Andrew Caunce, who, as a group with Wilkinson boast some 150 years rugby experience between them.
The exciting young talent came in the form of Holland and Shread in the front row, Harrison, Shorrock and Jackson in the back five and backs Brown, Lafranceschina, Clemmey, Hardy, McClean, Birch and Keough.
Altogether a squad of 19 shows in itself a healthy improvement on last year.
Chorley only came with 11 players, and in order to balance up the numbers, Clitheroe donated four players to the opposition and thanks to Procter, Gretton, Jackson and Caunce, as well as to referee Beveridge, a good game of rugby ensued.
Clitheroe are notoriously slow starters, and with the disruption of moving players around they could perhaps have been forgiven for not starting the game well.
However, this wasn’t to be. The home team took the bull by the horns and tore into Chorley pretty much from the off. Dowson and McEntyre continually drove the ball in hard from in and around the ruck, whilst Brown was providing effective ball delivery to Lafranceschina, who in turn was releasing the ebullient Hardy and McClean.
As the half progressed, Chorley were being pinned deeper and deeper into their own half, and despite some heroic defending it was only a matter of time before the line was crossed. During an entertaining first half Clitheroe crossed for three unanswered tries that came from McEntyre, Lafranceschina and new man McClean. Keough added one conversion.
The second half was, for the most part, a continuation of the first, however Chorley did rally for a 10 minutes period in the middle of the half and scored their only try of the game.
The remainder of the half was dominated by Clitheroe, with the highlights being hat-tricks for Lafranceschina and McClean and a further try from the industrious Dowson. McClean played excellently in his first game of rugby and will certainly be pushing for higher level rugby if he continues to show such strength in contact and fleet of foot.
He was much deserving of the man of the match award.
On Saturday, Clitheroe seconds travel over the hill to play Colne and Nelson seconds
l CLITHEROE Rugby Union Football Club is pleased to announce that Hughie Wardle has been appointed as chair of the junior section for this season. Hughie is a former first and second team player and qualified rugby referee, who is also a qualified cricket coach with Clitheroe Cobras. The junior section, now relaunched as the Clitheroe Kestrels, begin the new season with training on Sunday, starting with registration from 10 a.m. This season promises to be very exciting for the club and especially for Ollie McEntyre’s Under 16 side, who for the first time, are competing in the regional Blacksticks Blue League. Ollie expressed his delight at securing a place in the league and exhorted: “with the lads we have in Clitheroe, we potentially could be very successful this year and perhaps more so when the lads move into the senior ranks in the not-too-distant future.”
New chairman Hughie stated: “The Kestrels are looking forward to welcoming new and existing players at all age levels from six through to Under 17. Rugby training and competitive games focus on Tag rugby for the younger age groups and contact rugby for older youngsters. The key aims of the Kestrels remain three-fold: To develop young players to their optimum ability in a safe and enjoyable environment, provide a pathway for local youngsters to eventually play senior rugby at Clitheroe, and to provide every child in Clitheroe and the Ribble Valley who wants to play rugby with an opportunity to do so.
The club will continue to work closely with local schools and will again be supporting the local Primary Key Stage 2 Autumn Tag league.
Towards the end of September there will be a family day which will include participation from Sale Sharks with whom Clitheroe RUFC are affiliated.
FINAL SCORE: Clitheroe 2nds 44, Chorley 3rds 5
For further information contact the club through the website www.clitheroerugby.com, via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org, or via our general mobile helpline on 07534 171135. The Kestrels Hotline on 07930 355806 is updated every Sunday morning with information.