Revenge for Clitheroe

THE first game of 2011 at Littlemoor saw Clitheroe entertain Tyldesley, having earlier in the season gifted the game to their opponents with some sloppy handling.

The team had a familiar look, but with Jim Smith failing a late fitness test, Ric Edmondson moved from second row into the tight head position and Curphey made a welcome return to the second row.

The start could not have gone better, as Clitheroe kicked, and as Tyldesley looked to clear their lines from deep in the 22 metre area, Ralph Rigby sniffed out the ball and charged the kick down.

Bursting up from the centres came Bartle and Waddington, with the latter deftly scooping up the ball and popping to Bartle, who was hauled down under the posts.

The tackler failed to roll away, and from the penalty, scrum half Smudge Smith spun it down the line to Coulter to score a great winger's try.

Tyldesley were keen to make amends, and there was a case of dj vu as they fed on Clitheroe mistakes and attacked the line relentlessly for the next 15 minutes.

A penalty taken quickly saw them recycle the ball to score in the corner and level the scores.

Tyldesley proved the more determined at this stage, with a rolling maul which should have been dealt with long before it trundled 40 yards up the pitch to score, and go in at half-time 10-5 in front.

A concise team talk helped focus the minds of the squad, and the Maroon and Gold finally got rid of the cobwebs and ploughed into their opposition, the forwards winning quick ball again and again through the hard work of Edmondson, Atkinson, and the Thornber brothers Andrew and Mick, backed up by the bullocking runs of Curphey, Cowgill and Rigby.

Tyldesley were on the back foot in the opening minutes of the second half, and good pressure led to a penalty chance which was missed, but from the re-start Waddington smashed the ball back up the pitch, with Simon Cowgill in strong support as usual to take the ball on again, and Lafranceschina broke through to score in typical style.

With the conversion taken, it put Clitheroe into the lead.

Again the forwards dominated, and Atkinson crashed onto a driving ball just inside the Tyldesley 22 metre area and made good yards to set up the ruck within easy range of the line. Scrum half Smith, having a great game, saw his chance and darted over to score, again converted, as the Maroon and Gold took a 19-10 lead.

Tyldesley came back from the restart and started applying pressure into the Clitheroe 22, with Watson and Bartle as cool as ever in dealing with the attacks with strong tackling, holding the play up to allow their forwards to arrive.

As the ball spilled out of the back of a ruck, the bizarre sight of a Rigby kick had all in awe apart from the quick acting Lafranceschina who followed the kick up to snaffle the ball and run 50 metres to score and convert as the score moved on to 26-10.

The final score came from a scrum in on the Clitheroe 22 metre line, McEntyre picked and went blind and managed to evaded a couple of tackles then passed to Smith, who scooted 60 metres down the middle of the park to score under the posts - a fitting end which clinched the man of the match award for him.

On Saturday Clitheroe have a tough clash away at Pendle, while the second XV also travel over the hill to play Burnley thirds.

Rossendale 3rds 46, Clitheroe 2nds 0

YOU might expect Pundy's men to be slightly rusty, and in this case you'd be right.

Rossendale's large squad scored a hateful of tries against a depleted and much changed Clitheroe, however, captain Procter can take heart from the performance of a number of players.

Bill Platt returned to the club after a couple of years in the rugby wilderness and played a storming game, while youngsters Joe Newton, Craig Holland, Luke Hayton and Matt Bleasdale played well under intense pressure.

Centres Robinson and Mashiter, together with wing/number eight Williamson did well going forward, and the combative front row of the two Procters and Holland made a good fist at scrum time.

The Rossendale backs and back row did most of the damage and despite Clitheroe managing to stem the tide of tries engulfing them as the game worn on, the home team thoroughly deserved their victory.

Clitheroe Under 16/17s hosted North Ribblesdale Under 16s as Iain Harris brought his quality side over to Littlemoor, and they managed nice again to show how simple the game can be running in a bounty of tries on a crisp winter's morning.

Clitheroe started very poorly and were intent on allowing North Ribb all the space they required to make good fast yards in attack.

This seemed to lead to an ever-decreasing appetite to pla,y and it was only after intervention by the visiting coaches to change some players around that the game as a contest came to life.

Forwards Wilde, Buchanan, Marsden, Wright and newcomer Postlethwaite made their presences felt as the game wore on, and three excellent team tries were scored in the second half to put some smiles back on the faces of players and supporters alike.

The backs played their part too but were starved of ball throughout, making life rather difficult.

Spenceley Jones had to leave the field after feeling the effects of some raking studs, whilst Grooby, Najia, Backhouse, Scott and Fowles all stuck to their task despite the enormity of it.

But overall, North Ribb showed their prowess at clean running rugby on many occasions during the match.

It's a return to the training paddock for this young side to move towards resolving their defensive frailties.

Training continues on Tuesdays from 6-7-30 p.m. and Sunday mornings from 10-30 a.m. sharp.

Anyone interested in coming along should check out the website at www.clitheroerugby.com