Clitheroe lose local derby

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CLITHEROE made the short broomstick ride over Pendle Hill to Holt House for this North Lancashire Division 2 derby match last Saturday.

But, shorn of a few regulars, the locals were just not good enough on the day.

Led out by captain for the day Ross Chamberlain, the maroon and gold hooped jerseys faced the enemy into the wind in the first half.

What followed over the next 20 minutes set the template for the entire game.

Colne, well drilled as ever, made a few short drives into Clitheroe territory and then unleashed their three-quarter line. Some straight, powerful running from the bulky centres drew in the Clitheroe defence time and again. An easy overlap was exploited, and in no time the tries were raining in down the wing.

Half-time couldn’t come soon enough for the visiting side, already four tries down with just a couple of penalties from the boot of Martin Lafranceschina to show for it.

The interval was time for home truths and some reshuffling of resources, and to be fair to Clitheroe, there was a definite improvement.

The scrums steadied with Chamberlain now at lock, and although the line outs were still problematic, Clitheroe began to compete with far more vigour and rigour in the loose and around the park.

Some surging runs from young tyro lock Sam Thornber, plus some excellent savaging from Rick Slinger set the tone. That was enthusiastically followed in the back line by Chris Waddington at inside centre.

At full back, Lafranceschina, was a rock and came into the line well and also asked questions of the Colne defence when he moved up to stand off.

But all in all a well below par performance and one to put down to experience, bitter though that is to swallow.

FINAL SCORE: Colne & Nelson 38, Clitheroe 6

Preston Grasshoppers sixths travelled to Clitheroe to play the previously unbeaten second team, and with the help of some Fijian speed, strength and skill, came away with the spoils.

In the absence of captain Wilkinson, Gretton took over the armband, ably assisted in the forwards by lock Dowson.

Despite Clitheroe grabbing the game by the scruff of the neck in the opening exchanges, with props Graves and Smith and McEntyre returning at number eight, the visitors pushed the ball wide to their star centre as soon as they got ball in hand, and he proceeded to score in the first minute.

And it quickly got worse as Clitheroe conceded another two tries from the same centre to give him his hat-trick with only nine minutes on the clock.

Clitheroe needed to stem the tide, and and after an excellent driving maul with Farnsworth at the forefront, Dowson powered over to put their first points on the board.

Hayton was brought on to try to limit Preston’s attacking options out wide but despite his best efforts, they managed another couple of tries by the half hour mark to take the score to 31-5.

Shortly afterwards, Jim Smith benefited from Preston’s indiscretions in and around the ruck when he got on the end of some excellent driving runs to score in the right corner.

Next, towards the end of the half, Ed Rigby came close to scoring after Brown and Sharples manufactured a good move in the backs, and only a dubious forward pass spoiled what would have been a fantastic team try.

The half-time whistle blew with the score at 31-10.

Clitheroe had essentially been put to the sword in the first 10 minutes but had certainly shown some resolve to limit the damage and indeed, get back into the game to some degree.

Although they looked to respond positively in the opening exchanges of the second half, Preston scored first with some solid work from their pack, who, at scrum time, had looked very exposed throughout the game.

Clitheroe hit back quickly with a Graves try. The sizeable prop reacted quickly to a penalty and tapped the ball around 30 yards out. After quick recycling and some quick hands, Graves popped up to finish off the move to cap a fine, man of the match performance.

Clitheroe, as a result of this defeat slipped to second in the table but they hope to return to winning ways next week with a trip to Fleetwood.

On the last visit players and spectators alike enjoyed a feast of rugby in sweltering temperatures.

Odds are for similar rugby if not the weather!

FINAL SCORE: Clitheroe 2nds 17, Preston Grasshoppers 6ths 36