CLITHEROE travelled to Newton-le-Willows for the second time in the season, this time in the Lancashire Plate competition, and went down to three late tries.
The Maroon and Gold did not shrink the challenge in any form and matched the home team in the opening exchanges, with some good early pressure leading to the Newton defence being stretched to the point of breaking at times, but just holding out the town team.
But Newton started the scoreboard ticking over with a direct running try. Clitheroe were not perturbed in any way and after the restart again exerted some good pressure, Newton transgressed and Fitzhenry slotted the penalty.
Clitheroe scored next as Newton’s abrasive style threatened to spill over into the wrong side of the rules and the Maroon and Gold went into a slender 6-5 lead from another penalty.
Again Newton responded well and barged their way up the pitch and scored to get back in front at 10-6.
Aagain Clitheroe put the pressure on deep into the home half as they looked for a try, however, again Newton transgressed and Fitzhenry again punished the home team and Clitheroe went into the break a point down.
After the restart the game bounced back and forth, with Clitheroe dominant in both set pieces of scrum and line out – Ralph Rigby soaring high above his competitors in the lineout and the powerhouse front five of Thornber, Holmes, Smith, Farnsworth and Giz Williams taking no prisoners in the scrum.
Chamberlain on the blind side was really in the faces of the opposition and played his usual boisterous loose game, while in the back line Smith was darting and sniping throughout the opening exchanges. His industrious work was rewarded as centres Waddington and Bartle smashed their way up the park, aided by full back Kino, making a welcome return from injury.
As the forwards supported the backline to get the ball back quickly, Smith saw a huge gap open up in front of him and did not need the supporting back row trio as he went in to score himself and move Clitheroe into a 16-10 lead with 20 minutes to play.
But as Clitheroe were getting tired and slightly sloppy, Newton capitalised as their large reserve of players on the bench began to tell, and they scored three quick tries in the final 15 minutes to run out winners.
FINAL SCORE: Newton-le-Willows 31, Clitheroe 16
On Saturday, the firsts host local rivals Pendle in a return to league action.
The seconds hosted Thornton Cleveleys at Littlemoor, no doubt with thoughts of their substantial win there at the start of the season.
Clitheroe fielded a stronger side this time out, but with the wind blowing the rain towards the horizontal it was always going to be a tricky day for handling.
Thornton managed to run the ball well from deep, and despite scoring only two tries in the first half, they managed to pull away with relative ease in the second half to score a total of six tries. It wasn’t all one-way traffic though, with Clitheroe showing some skilful midfield interplay, orchestrated by Watson and Fielding and some excellent robust defence with Harper, Newton and Thatcher to the fore in this regard. Scrum half Brown also played well and is quickly learning the trade at the base of the scrum. Having these experienced players around him no doubt helps.
The main opportunities for Clitheroe to get onto the scoreboard were from penalties, but both were difficult in terms of angle and distance and were pushed wide. Overall, the score might suggest a walkover, but Clitheroe played with pride and determination right through to the end and this was even after losing both Thatcher and Wood to injury, leaving them with no subs.
On Saturday, the seconds host BAe Warton.
Clitheroe Under 15s hosted Colne and Nelson at Littlemoor on Sunday morning, and in the true spirit of the game, lent three players to their visitors. Josh Gilloway opened the scoring for the junior Maroon and Gold, and Sam Hill converted.
Curtis Noone took a great line to dive in at the corner, before Colne struck back, only for Jamie Allen to replace the advantage, cutting a clean dash to go in under the posts.
Josh Gilloway added his second try and George Wrathall, on loan to the visitors, replied.
Jordan Blane scored out wide, and the game was finished off with a try for the hard working Joe Crowther under the posts. Man of the match was Isaac Tranmer.