RUGBY: Thornton Cleveleys 20, Clitheroe 0

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A SATURATED surface on the Fylde flatlands proved a deciding factor in the outcome of this game.

Strength in depth on the bench to bring on fresh players to replace mud-sapped limbs was key to the home side’s victory.

Before the game Thornton topped North Lancs 2 after a great start to the season, whereas Clitheroe were languishing at the foot of the table.

Back in the pack came young Mark Piercy, after Kiwi back row Darren Eagle didn’t even last the warm up. Struan Robertson regained his scrum half jersey, and although not 100% fit, Chris Waddington started in the centres along side skipper Nathan Peel.

Thornton started in confident fashion, with the tight forwards driving close to the rucks and the 9,10, 12 axis pulling the strings.

Yet again and again the stone wall that was Clitheroe’s defensive line refused to yield.

Lock forwards Brian Hough and Martin Lafranceschina were leading the way, aided by props Jim Smith and Ben Graves, and hooker Rick Edmondson.

Any attacks slightly wider out were dealt with by loose forward trio Andrew Rigby, Ross Chamberlain and Mark Piercy.

But it was not all defence for the Littlemoor team, they too had their moments: wing man James Dickinson looked dangerous when he got the ball and a great counter attack saw him scorch up the wing, but the cover just got across to quell the attack.

At the back Stuart Railton settled well into the full back role, being safe under the high ball and a steadfast in the tackle.

Half-time came, and to the surprise of some it was just a solitary penalty to the home team to lead 3-0.

Thornton brought on some fresh legs after the interval and the effect was immediate.

After a big shift, Clitheroe’s resources were threadbare. And when Thornton scored their first try after 10 minutes of the second half the writing was on the wall. Two more tries sealed it for seasiders and Clitheroe were running out of steam fast.

Another reshuffle was required when, influential three-quarter Dave Watson hobbled off, with Peel slotting in at outside half.

Unbowed, very wet and muddy, Clitheroe survived till the final whistle with out conceding any more scores.

So a loss; but only after a tremendous team effort.