Fitzhenry penalty earns gritty draw for Clitheroe

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AS the winds blew and rains poured, many amateur Saturday sportsmen were looking to the refuge of a cancellation and an afternoon in the clubhouse or Christmas shopping.

Not at Littlemoor, where even as the weather threw its worse at Clitheroe, the Maroon and Gold entertained local rivals Pendle.

As the whistle went, the hail began to slam down like ball bearings, and Pendle soon were pressing the line.

A five-metre scrum was conceded as Clitheroe scrambled their defence, as the home team pack skated backwards in the mud, and Chamberlain dropped on the ball from the second row. The referee saw a different view and awarded a try to Pendle.

However, Clitheroe rallied and looked to be more in control as the half wore on.

As they pressed, Pendle conceded a penalty which Declan Fitzhenry took to take the score to 5-3.

Pendle were next in ascendancy with a score near the posts which they converted to move into a 12-3 lead.

However the men in Maroon and Gold slowly clawed their way back into the match with two penalties for a half-time score of 12-9.

The second half started much as the first, but Clitheroe started their best period of the match. Looking more and more progressive as the centre pairing of Bartle and Peel looked to drive the ball hard into contact, with forwards Chamberlain, Rigby and Dixon working hard to provide quick second phase ball the back three of Fitzhenry, Waterworth and Waddington all looked threatening going forward.

Pendle defended manfully, but the ball spun out down the line to Fitzhenry, who, seeing two forwards to his outside, placed a perfect chip over the top – skipper McEntyre went into pursuit and slid over the line with the ball. The referee was unsighted but awarded a penalty which the sharp thinking Smith took quickly.

Again the ball spun rapidly down the line, and after another breakdown where Holmes and Thornber snaffled the ball back, then through four sets of hands, before Waddington slipped in to score and Clitheroe were in front at 14 -12.

Pendle were never going to lie down and a move out wide from a breakdown in the 22 metre area saw them ground the ball in the far corner to creep three points in front.

Clitheroe finished strongly, pressing the Pendle 22 metre area hard looking for a score – eventually Pendle were tempted in to a penalty from the pressure, being judged off-side in the centres, and Fitzhenry slotted the three points to bring the scores to 17-17

Pendle rallied as Clitheroe too looked to win the game, but the whistle went and the teams shared the points.

Today, Clitheroe face league leaders Manchester Medics at Littlemoor in their penultimate game of 2011.

Final Score: Clitheroe 17, Pendle 17