AFTER last week’s victory, Clitheroe were optimistic of some points, especially as they had a good mixed squad of experienced and young players.
This was also the first chance for many players to show their abilities in front of a new coach, Roger Kilshaw-Fall, who previously coached at Morpeth in Northumberland.
There were six changes in the pack and three in the starting back line. Mark Fisher started his first game for the club at centre, and despite playing most of his rugby in he league code, his exuberance and skill bodes well.
He was joined by traveller Waddington, fresh from his exertions in New Zealand. In the pack, both John Procter and Lewis Williams returned from injury whilst veteran Roger Holmes donned his boots for the first time in months in the hooker position.
Clitheroe started brightly, putting the hosts on the back foot for the majority of the first 20 minutes. A missed penalty from long range was the first chance for points, but this was quickly followed up by the game’s first try, captain Wilkinson taking a sweet short ball from scrum half Wood 30 yards out before outpacing the defence to flop in by the right corner flag.
However, it simply proved to inspire the opposition who went on to boss the majority of the remainder of the first half, scoring two converted tries in quick succession to lead 14-5.
Captain and coach highlighted the need for better support play and improved communication in defence during the half-time huddle and started the second half looking like they heeded that advice.
The passing was crisp, the support there in spades and when Bolton did manage to get the ball, the Clitheroe defence was stout. This higher level of performance led to a penalty chance that was expertly converted by centre Thatcher.
With around 20 minutes of the second half played, Bolton knew they had to up the pace and made a number of inspired changes in personnel. As they proceeded to grab the game by the scruff, Bolton were also aided by a Clitheroe player being binned following a previous warning for lack of discipline.
They simply couldn’t match Bolton’s pace and renewed determination at the breakdown, especially from the players who had recently entered the fray, and conceded another two converted tries as well as a penalty during the final 25 minutes to make the final score 31-8.
FINAL SCORE: Bolton 4ths 31, Clitheroe 2nds 8
The seconds have a crucial home game against Fleetwood this Saturday, with the firsts also at home to Carnforth (games kick-off 2-15 p.m.).