Clitheroe Cavaliers enjoyed a solid start to the new season with a 41-33 win over newly-promoted Bolton, who breezed last year’s Division 5 competition.
Clitheroe started brightly and opened the scoring with a well worked try for Dan Smith, who looked at home in the number nine shirt.
But a steady flow of mistakes allowed Bolton to work themselves back into the game. Three unanswered tries well and truly swung the balance in their favour by the 30-minute mark.
Any team containing no fewer than five previous maroon and gold captains, with a sixth on the touch line barking orders, will not roll over.
After some stern words, Kirk Kenyon led his troops into the Bolton 22, where a rare Clitheroe penalty saw Matt Furbush crash through, and Nathan Peel add the extras. At the half it was 19-14 to the travellers.
Young fullback Jack Stanley, who acquitted himself well in attack and defence, swapped with another debutant Joe Wilkinson, both colts making their mark.
From the kick-off, Clitheroe returned to simple, direct rugby and were rewarded by Smith jinking his way up the pitch, beating six defenders to finish off a period of sustained pressure. Again Peel converted.
Will Jones made way for Jim Pate and Tom Hardman moved to tighthead.
Bolton continued to work hard and were rewarded with two converted tries, which had the Cavaliers rocking.
Matt Furbush departed for a breather, as Garth Spencer came on looking focused and sharp. Phill Winstanley returnd after a 15-plus year hiatus, swapping with the ever reliable Austin Wensley.
At this point, the oldest of the captains on the pitch came into his own. The pack came back to life following Andrew Thornber’s direct running, and was soon rumbling again, and for the next 15 minutes took control. In this period Spencer was rewarded for a strong return to the fold with a well-worked try, following some strong breakdown work from Lewis Riley and Niall Spence. Peel added the extras – game on.
Clitheroe again worked up the pitch, and with less than 10 minutes remaining were just ahead thanks to a difficult penalty from Peel.
Last year’s skipper Jamie Taylor hobbled off after some hard running and Will Jones returned to the fray.
By this point Adam Penny joined Harry Procter in making their Bolton debuts – a good gesture, as Bolton had a bare XV at kick off.
Smith followed up some great work from the pack and crashed over, before Peel ended the affair with a try.
The Senior Colts opened their league season with a 31-26 defeat to Northwich.
Saturday sees the firsts start their league season at home to North Manchester, kick-off 3 p.m., with the seconds at Preston Grasshoppers and on Sunday, the Senior Colts are at West Park St Helens.