Clitheroe earn bonus try victory over rivals

Ralph Rigby in the thick of the action on Saturday
Ralph Rigby in the thick of the action on Saturday

Clitheroe’s rugby men secured a bonus points in a four tries to two win over close rivals Carnforth at Littlemoor on Saturday.

There is a long and mutual respect on and off the field between the two clubs, and the fact that both first and second XVs were playing each other made for an agreeable afternoon for all concerned.

Clitheroe came unstuck in the corresponding fixture at Carnforth earlier in the season, suffering from an injury crisis in the face of a horrendous thunderstorm.

So in this the return fixture, Clitheroe were anxious to make amends.

However the usual absentees made the task even more testing than usual.

The front row resources were stretched thinly throughout the club.

So a rejig was called for - up stepped John Procter from the second XV, Kieron Keough moved to hooker and Tom Hardman returned to loose head prop.

There was a debut for Richard Few on the right wing, and the skipper Nathan Peel moved to the scrum half berth, allowing Dave Watson to slot in at outside half.

The pitch had several sticky patches, but on the whole was the driest it has been for several weeks, if not months.

Credit must go to hardworking groundsman Phil Isherwood, for some midweek remedial work.

Clitheroe soon warmed to their task and were confident with ball in hand and going through the phases.

The ball found its way out to the right, and with his first touch of the ball in maroon and gold colours, Few showed his immediate worth, scooting down the wing to score and opening try for Clitheroe on his debut.

What a start for the home support, and the game barely 10 minutes old.

Better was to follow when, after a prolonged siege on the visitors’ line, a five metre scrimmage was awarded.

A clean heel from the front row and number eight Sam Thornber picked up at the base. This caught the Carnforth defence napping, and he strode under the posts for a tremendous try. Greg Birch converted to put Clitheroe in command.

But as soon as the home players thought they had the game under control, Carnforth came storming back with a deserved try of their own to put them right back in the game.

Clitheroe just about kept their composure at this point, and came back strongly.

Some strong work at the breakdown saw Carnforth concede a few penalties too many for comfort.

Birch was on hand to convert a couple to put Clitheroe 18-11 up at the interval.

A bright start to the second period saw Greg Birch increase his point tally with another penalty kick.

Then Clitheroe seemed to go off the boil and loose concentration.

This only served to let the visitors back in the game once again, as they scored their second try.

A bit of straight talking behind the posts seemed to rectify things, and for the remainder of the half it was Clitheroe who had the lion’s share of territory.

Two more tries for Clitheroe – Birch again dotting down twice – would seem like it was one-way traffic.

Not a bit of it. Carnforth are an 80-minute side who never gave up, and Clitheroe had to work hard for their points.

So a pleasing home win and bonus point to boot, plus some good stand out performances; Stuart Railton and Chris Waddington were solid in the middle and Les Hardman had a strong game on the left wing.

Up front, Luke Hayton at wing forward was in the middle of all that was good, aided by veteran Ralph Rigby.

Jacob Shorrock also got through a prodigious amount of work, which was kept up by his replacement Pete Farnsworth.

This Saturday Clitheroe are at Littlemoor again.

League leaders North Manchester are the visitors, with kick-off at 2-15 p.m.