CLITHEROE were worthy winners in the glorious suinshine at Littlemoor last Saturday.
After a frenetic opening quarter, the scores remained level with both teams pushing deep into scoring territory. For the home team, a charging run by Atkinson saw him streak clear of the defensive lines only for Rigby to overrun what would have been the scoring pass.
However, the opening score came through the visitors, who slammed over in the corner after bouncing through some tackles.
Slicing runs up the middle of the park were the direct answer as Hough and Chamberlain took flight with the ball. Waddington took the ball at pace and headed into the Crosby half, the referee judged a high tackle and Fitzhenry took the three points on offer.
Crosby were spurred into action as they crashed up the pitch from the re-start, and Clitheroe conceded a penalty which Crosby converted to restore their five-point margin.
Errors started to creep in, but Clitheroe mounted good pressure from a steal from Peel, and as the forward charge was led by Graves and Edmondson, the quick ball came, another high tackle was given, and again Fitzhenry slotted the three points.
Clitheroe ended the half in the ascendancy as the forwards pushed towards the 22 metre area. As Crosby began to flood the defence to stem the effort, an off-side transgression was punished and Clitheroe pulled into a one-point lead with Fitzhenry again dissecting the posts.
The second half began with renewed vigour, but Clitheroe struck first. From a line out, a driving maul pumped the Maroon and Gold forwards deep up the pitch, Watson at scrum half unleashed the backline, Kino at full back burst through and made good yards, while the bump and grind of the forwards again gave very quick ball, Watson found Fitzhenry, and the result was a score under the posts. Fitzhenry converted his own try and the scoreboard moved on to 16-8.
Many thought the home team would now open up and put some margin of safety between themselves and the visitors, but Crosby had other ideas.
The visitors ground their way into the scoring zone, and a shrill blast from the referee gave the visitors a shot a goal which they eagerly took and the gap narrowed to five points.
However, in the final 15 minutes, Clitheroe began to take control once more and retain more ball, which frustrated the visitors in defence.
Several penalty chances were just too far out to kick and Clitheroe looked to apply the killer five-point score instead. It did not come and a jumpy last few minutes were played out in opposition territory, as the Maroon and Gold celebrated a worthy win.
Clitheroe seconds, meanwhile, lost 38-12 at Fleetwood fourths, as they capitulated defensively to such a degree that they allowed Fleetwood to score four tries and a penalty during the opening 25 minutes to take a 31-0 lead.
It took until towards the end of the first half for the visitors to wake up defensively and got to retain more ball.
Unfortunately, Clitheroe couldn’t get near enough to the opposition try line, but did manage to stem the scoring tide of the hosts.
The half-time team talk revolved around the need to continue to play as they had in the last 10 minutes of the first half, and this was heeded as Clitheroe surged forward downfield.
Winger Clemmey managed to score a great try on the left wing within a few minutes, converted by full back Keough.
Unfortunately, only a few minutes later, Clemmey’s shoulder dislocated once again and he had to be replaced by flanker Jackson.
Clitheroe gained improved field position, however, and after some excellent recycling by the Procter brothers and flanker Harper, the ball moved quickly left to find prop Holland in the left corner, where he finished with aplomb for his first try for the side.
With time running out, Clitheroe kept on attempting to push the ball wide and into space, but Fleetwood’s defence held firm to the point that they were able to gain good territory themselves for a 10-minute spell, and one of their back row darted inside some tired defenders to score the final try of the game.
Clitheroe actually managed to “win” the second half but too much damage had been done in the first half.
On Saturday, the team go over the hill to Burnley in what could be a fascinating game.
FINAL SCORE: Clitheroe 16, Crosby St Mary’s 11