Clitheroe defeated by Pendle Phoenix

Darren Eagle
Darren Eagle

It was another afternoon of toil and graft for Clitheroe on Saturday over the hill.

After an encouraging performance against the league leaders last week, changes were forced upon the team.

In came Jim Smith, Richard Few and Darren Eagle, and the evergreen Dave Watson took on the captain’s armband.

Clitheroe tried to take the game to Pendle up front and negate their tricky backline of much good ball.

However, although the tight phases went mainly with the head and feed, and perhaps Clitheroe just shaded the line outs, hanging onto the ball at the breakdown was their Achilles heel.

Pendle played to the whistle beautifully and Clitheroe were just not accurate or ruthless enough at the ruck area. Pendle were able to extract too many penalties against Clitheroe to enable them to gain momentum.

Most of the first half was played out in the middle third with neither team able to break the deadlock until a couple of half breaks were ably supported by the Pendle back row to put them over for two tries.

Unhappily the second period started with Clitheroe conceding another try, and the Pendle kicker had a fine afternoon with a 100% kicking rate.

Clitheroe rallied for the next 20 minutes and laid siege to the Pendle line. It wasn’t pretty but proved effective, after a protracted series of close quarter pick and drives, scrum half Dan Smith spotted a gap and went through.

That was about as good as it got for the Maroons. And as tired legs took their toll, Pendle were able to grab a couple more tries before the final whistle.

There is no first XV game on Saturday, but the seconds XV entertain Chorley (3 p.m.).