Clitheroe finished their league season away at Rossendale in the scorching spring sunshine.
And although Rossendale had too much strength in depth, the locals did not wilt in the heat.
Rossendale opened strongly and it wasn’t long before Clitheroe were under pressure and under their own posts as the hosts scored and converted after missed tackles in defence and slick running from the attackers.
Clitheroe pushed into their opponents’ half and soon had them under pressure, only for the last ball not to go to hand, and Rossendale took up possession and battered their way up the pitch. A further score resulted, and it appeared Clitheroe were staring down the barrel, especially with the early loss of key forward Ed Thornber to injury – however the chipper Penny replaced him, and after a reshuffle up front, the Clitheroe forwards started to compete on the floor and the loose.
Peel at scrum half gave the forwards even more momentum and suddenly Rossendale were under pressure – whilst the opening 20 minutes definitely belonged to them, the second 20 belonged to the Maroon and Gold.
A slick kick from Dickinson at stand off pegged Rossendale in their own half, and while they won their line out, the Clitheroe forwards came up with the ball after some good scrimmaging from Chamberlain and Cowgill. A few crash ball runs from the front row union of Smith, Graves and Thornber gained more vital yards and centre Curphey got in on the act too with a great bulldozing run into the opponents’ 22.
As Clitheroe looked to utilise the gaps, Rossendale pressed and knocked on, and from the set scrum Peel went blind and off loaded to Bleasdale on the wing, who took the ball on until tackled, McEntyre picked and drove into the Rossendale pack, and with more than a little help from his forwards driving in behind him, touched down, and Peel converted to take the score to 14–7.
The half wound down to the whistle and Clitheroe continued to master the game in possession and territory but couldn’t get over the line again despite dashing runs from Hough, Basquill and Railton.
At the change over Clitheroe again took the game to Rossendale, however the heat, hard pitch and physical game was beginning to take its toll, and the larger club’s strength in depth came to Rossendale’s rescue with some handy replacements, especially the young stand off who slickly delivered the ball to his backline.
Rossendale scored to extend their advantage, but attack is often the best form of defence and the Maroon and Gold looked to live up to this adage at every opportunity – a tactic that paid dividends as, while under pressure in their own half, the pack snaffled the ball and it was spun out down the backline for Basquill coming off his wing to put some pace on the ball. The forwards recycled it back and Peel put in a great kick down pitch for Bleasdale, who scorched down the line and wrestled the ball off the defender to gain the score, which Peel converted to move the Clitheroe tally to 14 points.
As Rossendale started to power into the game with another couple of substitutions, Dickinson dislocated a finger and had to exit the fray, but the Clitheroe bench was empty and the Maroon and Gold battled through the remaining 15 minutes of the match with only 14 men, which meant Rossendale could exploit the gaps easily, as they duly ran in four scores which distorted the scoreline.
Clitheroe’s final game of the season sees them take up the challenge of the famous President’s Select XV at Littlemoor on May 7th, the traditional curtain call of the season, competing for the Nick Hopwood Memorial Trophy in memory of the club’s first President.
Prior to the game there is the inaugraul apperance of a Clitheroe Veterans’ XV, with Kirby Lonsdale Vets kindly agreeing to come down for the game. The vets are to be skippered by Chris Bossonett, who is on the look out for extra players of the correct vintage! Call Chris on 07951573575.
After the vets game there is a clebratory luncheon for players, past players, members and friends.
To be included on the list for the meal call Andrew Burrill on 079783574408 or you can e-mail through the website www.clitheroerugby.com, or or directly to email@example.com
Clitheroe seconds went down 31-5 at Leigh fourths in the penultimate game of the season in league 5N, as their hopes of lifting themselves away from the foot of the table were dashed.
Again Clitheroe had a significantly changed side from the previous week, but the young lads who stepped into the breach played admirably, especially Pendle lads James Hardie and Callum Brown, as well as Aaron Shread and Mark Harrison.
Luke Procter played well again in his unaccustomed position of fly half, and added another five-pointer for the side.
However, Leigh, with their guile and the odd young speedster, made life difficult for Clitheroe and were good for their seventh win of the league campaign.
On Saturday, Clitheroe travel to Bolton for the last game of the season and must win to move off the bottom, a challenge that will no doubt be taken head on by this team, who, despite the losses, continue to grow in confidence.