WHEREAS the first XV played their first knockout competition game back in August, the seconds had to wait until the weekend for their first taste of knockout rugby in the Raging Bull Plate first round.
Clitheroe seconds had already played Preston Grasshoppers some weeks earlier, and came off second best at home in one of only two defeats so far this season.
Bob Wilkinson was able to pick a strong side, and the hope was that the team would be able to emulate the super performances of running rugby shown in the past few weeks.
To the delight of the great support given by the travelling Clitheroe contingent, the team didn’t disappoint.
Right from the first whistle, Clitheroe took the game to Preston, tearing into rucks and moving the ball wide at every opportunity.
The hosts were clearly stunned and struggled to contain the effervescent maroon and golds.
Scrum half Barrett was prominent, as was Bartle in the centre, and McEntyre at eight.
It didn’t take long for the first try to be notched up, left wing Caunce benefitting from some excellent interpassing and skilful offloading play by both backs and forwards, to finish with aplomb. Wilkinson followed up not long after with a try of his own, after Graves burst through before delicately popping a pass to his lumbering captain, who subsequently flopped over the line.
Preston managed to stem the tide for the majority of the remainder of the first half until the floodgates were barged open once more, first by Sharples, then by centre Mark Preston.
Half-time saw some changes, with Holland coming into the front row, try-scorer Preston making way for young tyro centre Hardy, and Harry Thompson coming on to replace Chris Harper in the back row.
Thompson hasn’t played for the club in a year or so and is a welcome addition to the growing younger element of the Clitheroe playing squad.
Clitheroe were all guns blazing once more as the second half whistle blew, and it didn’t take long before McEntyre scored a deserved try of his own, especially with all the work he’d done in creating turnover ball and generally playing to his devastating best.
The shine was to be rubbed off a little shortly afterwards as he suffered a small cut to his nose and had to leave the field for a time to regain his bearings.
Graves scored Clitheroe’s sixth and final try around the 50-minute mark after taking a quick tap, not for the first time in the game.
The game ground to a bit of stalemate throughout the second half, however, Preston did continue to pluck away and took their chance of a try well in the dying minutes.
Overall, it was an excellent knockout win for Clitheroe.
Keough kept up his near 50% kicking success rate and scrum half James Barrett was excellent throughout with his sniping and probing.
He was duly adjudged to be the Clitheroe man of the match by his fellow players.
After this win, Clitheroe progress to play in the next round away at Colne and Nelson on December 1st.
They will have to be on their mettle in what is always a tough game up on the hill.
This fixture is always worth watching and the England vs Australia game will be shown straight after the game in the clubhouse.