Spencer stars on Clitheroe debut

Centre James Hardy is pictured with the ball, being supported by full back Keough and man of the match Garth Spencer.
Centre James Hardy is pictured with the ball, being supported by full back Keough and man of the match Garth Spencer.

CLITHEROE strode out clear winners on the scoreboard, continuing their good run of form with a third successive 50-plus points win.

Carnforth started well with their experienced and sizeable forwards taking the game to the hosts. It only took a minute before Clitheroe transgressed, but luckily for the hosts, the penalty slipped wide.

A few minutes later Keough found a little space to squeeze through on the right, and after some quick passing, the ball came to centre Hardy who scored his first try of the season.

Keough slotted what looked to be an difficult kick to take the score to 7-0.

Over the next 15 minutes, Clitheroe kept up the pressure, although they couldn’t convert it into points.

Scrum half Brown was lucky to keep his head after a high tackle, but his half back partner, Sharples at 10, broke the deadlock. He chipped deftly behind the defence and together with winger Cook, put enormous pressure on the Carnforth full back. His clearance was poor, gobbled up by prop Procter and he straightened up well before offloading to the supporting backs. Debutant Garth Spencer dotted down in the corner to score his first try for Clitheroe.

This was quickly followed by a try from number eight Farnsworth, who took a quick tap penalty before smashing through three tacklers.

The tide briefly turned as Carnforth exerted pressure of their own. Only great defence by full back Keough stopped a certain try, but he couldn’t repeat his heroics as the Carnforth number eight broke through to score in the corner.

Clitheroe hit back hard with two tries before half-time. Firstly, a good steal at the line out by Newton gave backs great ball. Sharples linked well with centre Bartle and then Hardy to set him free to score his second try, under the posts.

Next it was the turn of Bartle to score as he picked a superb reverse running line to split open the defence. The half time whistle blew with Clitheroe 33-5 ahead.

Bartle also scored the first try of the second half; his outrageous dummy foxing his opposite number. At this point Clitheroe really turned on the boosters. Tries followed in quick succession from substitute Hough and fly half Sharples, who again showed great fast hands and an excellent eye for the try line.

Carnforth did hit back on 55 minutes with a try of their own, but Clitheroe revelled in the last 15 minutes of the game as they scored four more tries.

The Clitheroe forwards were dominating the close exchanges, and Sharples was in his element, getting good quick ball via Brown. Firstly, Cook scored in the corner, then Rob Woolley, another playing his first game for the club, showed incredible strength to power over through numerous tackles. The next try came from Spencer after good work from Hough, then not long after came the try of the match as Hough, playing in the second row, showed some skill any back would be proud of by escaping some hefty tackles before offloading brilliantly to Spencer at the last minute, allowing him to score his hat-trick on debut.

Dowson was a man mountain in the pack, while Hough gave a real dynamism to the forward performance when he came on.

Keough managed a 75% kicking accuracy rate, a significant improvement on recent weeks, while Sharples controlled the game superbly from 10 and the Hardy/Bartle centre partnership is certainly flourishing as they managed four tries between them.

However, it was debutant winger Garth Spencer who took the man of the match award for his hat-trick.

On Saturday, Clitheroe seconds will have to be on their mettle as they travel to Thornton Cleveleys.

FINAL SCORE: Clitheroe 2nds 78, Carnforth 10