Clitheroe’s annual trip to old friends Carnforth had a feeling of four seasons in one day; such was the ferocity of thunder, lightening, heavy rain squalls and bright sunshine that greeted the visitors.
Carnforth always give an excellent account of themselves on and off the pitch.
This encounter was no different, and in spite of some challenging climatic conditions this was a no-holds barred tough tussle, in a game that could have gone either way.
Clitheroe’s preparations were dogged by a couple of late cry offs, which proved to be costly. Largely the team was unchanged from the one that had tasted success the previous week. Though there was a late call to arms for wing Chris Kay. Dave Watson came in at outside half, and Dan Smith at full back.
Kicking-off with the wind and tide at their backs, Clitheroe made steady in roads into the hosts’ territory and soon managed to force a penalty, with Greg Birch opening Clitheroe’s account.
Carnforth struck back within minutes to take the lead with a good try.
Clitheroe, still quietly confident, attacked again, and Birch jinked and weaved through a thicket of defenders to score a fine individual try.
But Clitheroe received a hammer blow when experienced prop Will Jones limped off with a leg injury. There followed slight confusion in the ranks at the next scrummage as to who would step into the breach in the front row. Fortunately Luke Hayton slotted into the role perfectly.
About this time, with all the rearranging, Carnforth scored another to give them the lead at the interval.
In the second half, Clitheroe got a bit bogged down in their own half during the initial stages. But they seemed to be have had weathered the storm and moved nicely into enemy territory.
The set piece was one of contrasting fortunes for the Maroons; the line outs were a profitable source of ball but the scrum, maybe understandably, had some wobbles.
As Clitheroe attacked in Carnforth’s 22 the ball got turned over, a break out of defence left Clitheroe flat footed and from a promising position the found themselves standing under their own posts again.
Undaunted by this set back it was all out attack. More pressure from the Littlemoor pack made good yardage from which Sam Thornber crashed over to reduce the deficit to 19-13.
But with the clock running down Carnforth always just had the edge, and on the stroke of full time they grabbed a late score to put the game to bed.