Maroon and Golds are stunned by late North Manchester score in opener

Adam Penney scores for Clitheroe
Adam Penney scores for Clitheroe
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At long last it was the opening day fixture in the brand new league set up – the much trumpeted Lancashire County RU leagues – with the Maroons placed in the grand-sounding ADM Division 1.

The side looked promising – and the well used phrase of experience and youth was certainly fulfilled.

Two young Colts made their first XV debuts and another couple only still in their teens – great prospects, Joe Wilkinson, Jack Stanley, Dominic Styler and Matt Furbush.

At the other end of the scale, Andrew Rigby and late inclusion Darren Eagle were in the pack to bring the average age shooting back up.

The pitch looked in fine fettle in spite of the incessant rainfall – top marks to groundsman Phil Isherwood.

To the game itself then; Clitheroe were behind in the first 10 minutes, when the visitors showed some good support play to crash over.

This appeared to awake the Littlemoor outfit and they began to flex their muscles.

A good field position deep in enemy territory was established, and from the resulting scrum, Sam Thornber barreled his way over. Furbush on hand with the extras and all square.

Clitheroe were next on the board, attacking from a turnover deep in defence.

A kick and chase from Stanley saw a pile up next to the posts, and Adam Penney was in good support to flop over the line for a well-received try.

Furbush was again on target with the conversion.

Unfortunately, Clitheroe’s cutting edge up front was blunted when their two key ball carriers were sidelined out of the fray.

Tom Walton and the skipper Will Dickenson would be missed in the final shakedown.

North then replied with a try of of their own, to give Clitheroe a slender half-time advantage.

Now playing up the slope, Clitheroe began to labour and began to look mighty short of a gallop.

North took full advantage and went ahead, and looked the better side at this point.

But the Maroons kept pressing.

Some deft passing at last drew the cover and Wilkinson scampered over for his debut first XV try.

A further penalty from Furbush’s trusty boot eased Clitheroe away.But North struck back to retake the lead with 10 minutes to go.

Some frantic attacking up the middle of the pitch, with a few bullocking runs from Rigby and James Pate, created field position for the backs to do their thing.

The defence was outflanked and Wilkinson scooted round to score under the sticks – 29-24 to Clitheroe and surely they’d done enough.

North came pounding back and again their big forwards showed good hands in the offload and scored in the corner to level.

A pressure conversion sailed over.

A last minute all out attack came to nothing, and as the referee blew, it was clear the defeat was well and truly snatched from the jaws of victory.