A FANTASTIC never-say-die performance saw Clitheroe beat Ashton-on-Mersey at Littlemoor on Saturday with a late try.
It was a close encounter from the off, but the massed Littlemoor faithful could hardly anticipate just how close the match would become.
A half time score of 0–0 hardly signals a thrilling encounter, but the first 40 minutes had everything - slight of hand, skills, pace and raw aggression as the two teams battled for supremacy.
Ashton had chances to score through their backline, who were running hard and straight and ably backed up by their forwards, while the Maroon and Gold battled hard up front with a series of powerful drives from the likes of Ralph Rigby, Dowson, Chamberlain and the ever present Cowgill.
The backline were looking sharp in attack, however, they suffered a blow when Waddington sustained a nasty-looking knee injury and left the fray. The subsequent reshuffle saw Cowgill move into the centres and Edmondson take his place on the flank.
As the half closed, the only scoring chance fell to Ashton with a penalty near the posts, only for their kicker to slice it wide.
As the second half opened, the lactic acid in the legs of the players began to kick in, and spaces began to open up.
Ashton-on-Mersey were first to show their pace and skill with a well-worked line out move, which saw a peel from the rear of the lineout and ultimately a score under the posts, which was converted.
Clitheroe looked to rampage from the restart, pushing further up the pitch to get into the scoring zone.
Ashton transgressed, penalty awarded, Peel clinically kicked to touch for a Maroon and Gold lineout, and Rigby claimed the ball with the assistance from his lifting partners Atkinson and Jim Smith.
As the forwards drove into the Ashton 22 metre area, Atkinson peeled off up the blind side to crash through several tackles to claim a deserved try. The score moved to 7-5 and Clitheroe finally had some points for their possession and territory.
The next opportunity to score fell to Ashton after some sloppy discipline at the breakdown, but the long range penalty faded into the arms of Peel, who in true style charged back up the pitch some 35 metres. With his back row in attendance, the ball was recycled and Smith sparked his way up the pitch and popped to Atkinson and on to Ralph Rigby, who scored with style.
Peel converted and Clitheroe moved into a 12-7 lead.
However, Ashton were far from done and scored under the posts again from a line out move and second phase move to go into a 14-12 lead.
Clitheroe dug in for a final fight-back to clinch the game, and drive after drive from backs and forwards alike powered the ball into the Ashton 22 metre area. Great ball recycling saw the ball come back again and again on the Maroon and Gold side, powerful runs from Andrew Thornber, Penny and Atkinson in the front row, and Dowson and Chamberlain in the second row, combined with back row of Edmondson, Rigby and captain McEntyre making sure the ball came back again and again.
Backs joined in the rucks as the game entered the final seconds, and Hough and Ben Rigby fired in to secure the ball which Smith spun out to the ever cool Watson at 10, Peel popped to Rigby, who had appeared in the centres and scored his second try to secure the game.
Clitheroe Man of the Match was Dowson for a committed and powerful display at lock.
On Saturday, Clitheroe entertain Rossendale at Littlemoor, kick-off 3 p.m.
Clitheroe seconds lost 64-14 to Garstang thirds
In the first half, Pundy’s XV played with great heart and no mean skills to go into half-time down by just a single point at 15-14.
But Garstang ran in 45 unanswered points in the last 40 minutes.
Final Score: Clitheroe 17, Ashton-on-Mersey 14