CLITHEROE’S rugby men struggled again on Saturday, this time at the hands of close rivals Colne and Nelson.
Skipper Ollie MacEntyre has not had his troubles to seek in selection during the week, and with half a dozen first choice squad members working, holidaying or injured, resources were well and truly stretched.
Industrious Pete Farnsworth continued in the second row along side veteran Steve Dowson, but it was in the back line the major reshuffle had occurred.
Nathan Peel moved to fly-half, Matt Bartle started his first game of the season in the centres along with Ed Rigby - a special moment as he was joining his uncle Andrew Rigby in the team for the first time.
Sam Thornber resurfaced on the wing – happily now restored from a pre season knee injury.
Colne were out of the traps faster than the home team and during the opening exchanges looked by far the sharper and more purposeful team. It is fair to say that the Littlemoor outfit were under the cosh for the entire first 40 minutes and hardly ever managed to exert any control on proceedings. Scrum time was a particular problem for Clitheroe, the experienced Colne front rowers doing a job on the home team. Clitheroe’s cause was not helped with prop Craig Holland suffering a shoulder injury that reduced his effectiveness, and although he manfully soldiered on, it led to his eventual withdrawal.
To compound things, hooker Adam Penny also found himself having to temporally leave the action with a sore neck. Creditably he returned to the fray after treatment.
If all the coming and going was not enough, Clitheroe also managed to take their eye off the ball, lose concentration and let in 24 unanswered points. Half-time just couldn’t come soon enough.
After regrouping during the interval, Clitheroe came out with more intention and fire.
More territory was gained and some continuity of possession brought good yardage in reward.
By now Rick Edmundson and Ed Hacking had been brought on to bolster the pack, and it was Hacking who came closest to scoring after a typical surge, dragging several would be tacklers over the line with him.
Frustratingly the referee couldn’t see the ball under the mass of bodies and the moment was lost.
Clitheroe kept pegging away but couldn’t find the key to unlock the flinty Colne defence.
The second half remained scoreless, leaving Clitheroe to lament a wretched first half when the match was put beyond them.
Hopefully with some players returning to duty over the next few weeks allied with some hard work on the training paddock, Clitheroe can produce the results that the talent in the squad deserves.
Today the first XV are away to Chorley.
FINAL SCORE: Clitheroe 0, Colne and Nelson 24
After some valiant performances of late, Clitheroe travelled with a full squad of 20 players to Leigh in the hope of coming away with some much-needed league points.
The home side had other ideas, and with an even greater squad of players to pick from including some rather rapid former Colts, Leigh ran riot in defeating Clitheroe.
Clitheroe knew from the start that they were in for a tough game as Leigh ran in three tries in quick succession following the kick-off.
Their running out wide was decisive throughout the game and despite a solid Clitheroe performance up front, Leigh continued to make ground outside.
Clitheroe did manage some effective support play at close quarters driven on by captain Thornber, but this was ultimately nowhere near matching the unshackled running that the home side were displaying that lead to far too many tries to mention.
The good points to be taken from the game included the continued blooding of youngsters in various positions, the fact that the Clitheroe heads didn’t go down even as the game wore on and that there were some notable performances coming from Stuart Riley at prop, who made his debut in Clitheroe colours, and young Luke Procter, who scored all Clitheroe’s points.
On Saturday, Clitheroe host Colne and Nelson seconds at Littlemoor, kick-off 3 p.m.
Despite lying below Clitheroe in the table, Colne and Nelson have won their last two games, so the home side will have to put in an improved performance this weekend to have any hope of some points.
FINAL SCORE: Leigh 4ths 57, Clitheroe 2nds 12