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Local rugby: Clitheroe, Clitheroe 2nds, Blackpool, Birchfield

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Clitheroe welcomed Widnes team, Birchfield, to Littlemoor on Saturday with hopes high for their long awaited first win of the season.

But they remain waiting after a 24-5 defeat.

After 10 minutes there was a horrible feeling of déjà vu in the air. Birchfield started at a gallop and were over the try line in a trice, a try and a goal in credit, swiftly followed by a penalty.

The home side began to play some half decent football of their own. James Sharples began to probe for openings in the channel, and almost broke clear on several occasions, but just could not find the support player to continue the move. McLean in the centres had some powerful surges but again it came to nought.

Clitheroe’s defence began to crank up the work rate and Birchfield were forced to rely on putting boot to ball to clear their lines.

All this was meat and drink to full back Stuart Railton, who needed no second invitation to counter attack.

One such situation so nearly opened Clitheroe’s account.

Fielding the ball in his 22, a weaving run brought play into the opposition half. The move was continued well by support players including lock forward Alec Hough, and all of a sudden it was three on one with the line at their mercy, but the pass wouldn’t stick and again a chance went begging.

Just as half-time approached, Birchfield launched an assault on Clitheroe’s defence and almost on the whistle bagged another score. 17-0 down at the interval, things only got worse.

Clitheroe were on the attack, when an interception saw the maroons back under their sticks, with the guilty party closely examining his boot laces in embarrassment.

Clitheroe got stuck in, and wave upon wave of attacks forced the visitors to concede a string of penalties. Eventually an opening was fashioned and skipper Nathan Peel scuttled over for the try.

Birchfield were good enough value for their win, but in the cold light of day Clitheroe will rue not capitalising on their own chances.

Clitheroe 2nds 17. Blackpool 15

HIGH-FLYING Clitheroe picked up another win at home to Blackpool.

Clitheroe were coming second in the early exchanges, with Blackpool enjoying early territorial and possession advantage, and a scrum on the Clitheroe five-metre line gave the Blackpool number eight opportunity to pick and drive to score out on the right.

Things got worse for Clitheroe before 20 minutes had elapsed when one of the Blackppol backs picked up a ball from behind a ruck on the Clitheroe 22 and scampered through the middle to score.

This was converted and was added to a few minutes later with an audacious drop goal from Blackpool to make it 15-0.

Clitheroe did manage to force a kickable penalty but this was pushed wide by full back Keough.

On the half hour mark Barrett made his return at scrum half for the injured Brown, but the half finished with Clitheroe 15 points behind on the scoreboard but on top in terms of momentum.

McEntyre went to eight for the second half and together with fellow substitute Sam Thornber, they tore into Blackpool in the second half.

In didn’t take long before Clitheroe scored a try of their own as the mercurial Barrett ran a wide arc and had nowhere to go so chipped cleverly ahead to drop the ball behind the defence. Rather than pick the ball up, he decided to hack the ball on and although initially the ball had looked to be going over the dead ball line, he won the chase to score a superb try.

The momentum was now with Clitheroe and Thornber showed strength and speed to burst through on his own 10-metre line. He made a good 40 yards, into the Blackpool 22, the ball was moved quickly left and Barrett passed on to Bartle who sold a dummy and flopped over for a try which Keough converted.

Clitheroe had moved to within three points, and a series of penalties took Clithereo once again into the red zone.

Holland took the ball on at first receive, and the ball was quickly recycled and moved right between Bartle, sub Bolton and Barrett, who found the smallest gap to score the final try of the game.

The final 15 minutes was an edgy affair, and although Clitheroe defended stoutly Blackpool were not giving up.

However, Clitheroe generally had territorial advantage in the closing minutes and finished the game strongly.

Captain Thornber was somewhat relieved to come away with the points and thanked Blackpool for giving his side a thorough test.

Saturday sees Clitheroe travelling to unbeaten league leaders Leigh 4ths.

 

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