The Maroon and Gold shirts were pulled on in anger for the first time in 2012 as the Clitheroe 1st XV travelled to south Manchester to face Old Bedians in the return fixture of the season.
The last time these teams met was on a late summer day in early September when Bedians nicked a result by one point.
The Littlemoor men were looking to avenge that defeat and the hosts were looking at protecting their excellent home record.
Again, last minute cry-offs saw the squad depleted – disappointing given there was no second XV fixture, and with more notice the squad could have travelled with a full bench.
As the game kicked off, Clitheroe came out of the traps at pace that belied the four-week gap since the last first XV game, and were all over Bedians from the off.
Unfortunately Bedians were all over the rucks, a theme that would run throughout the game, and while their antics on the floor went unpunished, they played the game to edge and reaped the benefits throughout the 80 minutes.
After 20 minutes of great pressure, finally a penalty went their way and Kino duly stepped up to convert it.
The re-start was the first time the blue shirts of Bedians went into the Clitheroe half, and while in there they came away with three points from a penalty infringement by Clitheroe – 25 minutes gone and level scores at 3 -3.
Clitheroe again pressed into the Bedians half, the back row of Chamberlain, Rigby and McEntyre functioning well and combining both the tight five forwards and half backs to keep the game moving.
Defence in attack was excellent throughout the first 35 minutes, with tackling from the Maroon and Gold men being a force that it should be, and winning plenty of turnover ball in the process.
As the half ticked down the pace dropped off slightly, and this let Bedians into the game, a line out to the hosts on the Clitheroe 22 saw the ball released to the back line, who took their opportunity well to score, and although the conversion was missed, they went into a slender lead at 8-3.
Clitheroe pressed into the red zone from the re-start and were awarded a penalty in the dying seconds of the half – Kino stepped up and slotted the points to move the score to 8-6 at half-time.
Unfortunately that was the vice captain’s last input to the game as he hobbled off with a torn hamstring, replaced by Joe Newton.
A stern talk from both coach and captain at half-time regarding picking up the pace of the game again and increasing the communication to the levels of the first 30 minutes was heeded by the team, and again they started the stronger and went into attack.
Bedians continued to play to the limits on the floor, which killed a lot of good Clitheroe ball and stifled their attack despite the best efforts of the Littlemoor forwards.
Waddington was next to leave the pitch with a blow to the head, replaced by Holland, which meant Clitheroe now had two forwards in the backline making the numbers up and no more replacements on the bench.
The second half progressed with Bedians scoring again, as their backline were either offside or they have the pace of Usain Bolt and should team up to win the 4x100m at the Olympics later on this year.
Either way the score was awarded and Bedians went into a 15-6 lead.
The final 15 minutes were again all Clitheroe as they pressed in the Bedians half, but were endless thwarted by some good home team defending.
In the 78th minute the referee went to his pocket and sin binned one of the Bedian forwards for offences on the floor in the ruck, however it was a little late in the day for Clitheroe to take advantage.
Final score was 15-6 and Clitheroe can feel rightfully frustrated at the end result – however Bedians deserved the win, as while Clitheroe had around 70% territory and 60% possession, they did not convert these stats into the all-important points – while the home team took their points when on offer to them.
Saturday is a double header at Littlemoor as the first XV entertain Newton-le-Willows and the second XV, after a surge in form towards the end of 2011, will be looking to open their 2012 account successfully against old friends Carnforth, also at Littlemoor.