Clitheroe RUFC opened their warm-up campaign prior to the new season at a hot and humid Bury RFC on Saturday.
The outing was used as a squad game of four 20-minute sessions to enable players to be rotated and various combinations to be assessed.
Bury were excellent hosts, so much so when Clitheroe turned up with a squad of 18 players, Bury had a double full compliment of 30 lads raring to go.
The game set off at a cracking pace, and both teams were eager to both spread the ball wide in the perfect conditions, with neither side afraid to go the more direct confrontational route one.
Bury were particulately adept at the driving maul, whereas Clitheroe preferred the quicker rucking game.
There was plenty for the captains and coach to ponder as the game unfolded, notwithstanding the sage advice from three former club captains stoutly observing from the safety of the sidelines.
Clitheroe’s set piece play was pleasingly effective, the scrums being reasonable on their own put in, and strong on the opposition’s ball, enabling hooker Adam Penny to grab a few strikes against the head.
Jim Smith at tight head had a solid afternoon, along with fellow prop Aaron Atkinson.
Other forwards to catch the eye were the Thornber cousins - Sam at wing forward looking good until a recurrence of an old knee injury cut short his game.
Edward was prominent throughout, with a good work rate and excellent support play.
At half back, an interesting option of Nathan Peel at scrummie and Stu Railtion at fly-half, made for entertaining rugby to say the least, and both adapted well to their unaccustomed roles.
A contract of styles in the centres was the highlight of most of Clitheroe’s attacks.
The sinewy Kino Lafranceschina made plenty of line breaks, as well as taking on the kicking duties.
Conversely, the bustling no -nonsense style of running from Mark Curphy also brought it’s own rewards, in drawing in would-be defenders as well as skittling them like ninepins.
With new players like James Waterworth having effective debuts, and seemingly indestructible veterans Andrew Rigby still ploughing on, the season can be approached with some optimism.