Clitheroe’s Junior Colts were able to build on some of the positives from recent wins against Oxton and Burnley, where they attacked with a certain elan, to draw 22 all against Colne and Nelson.
The home team started well in retaining possession for the opening minutes, but through effective defending and Clitheroe’s own mistakes, Colne would break well, using their speed in the backs to cover the field quickly.
In the first six minutes, Colne were two tries to the good, and Clitheroe realised they had to work much harder to retain possession and defend much better when the ball turned over.
The forwards stuck to their task well, scrum half Worthy moving the ball well from the base, and front row forwards Calton-Whitaker, Brown and Robinson were able to make good yards around the ruck.
Barraclough and Lee in the second row were equally solid, while the back row of Larkin, Horsfield and Enion were really getting around the park well both in attack and defence.
The centre partnership of Stanley and Aspin was working well, with Wilkinson moving the play around, asking his back line to vary the aspects of attack.
Finally, the back three of Davies, Mason and Pimbley communicated well, interchanging as required and covering the many kicks the Colne were putting behind the defence.
With the amount of possession that Clitheroe were building, the points were sure to come.
On 20 minutes, Wilkinson found sspace on the left, and, using Mason as a foil, he set off down the wing and managed to outpace hapless defenders to score.
However, a try by the opposition only two minutes later took the score to 17-5 in the visitors’ favour.
Towards the end of the first half, Clitheroe exerted tremendous pressure on the Colne line, and after a succession of penalties, prop Brown, who was having a super game, crashed over to narrow the gap to seven.
In the second half, the game opened up a little more but essentially followed a similar theme to the first half.
The Colne players, especially the forwards, were feeling the constant barrage of forward thrusts, especially from Brown’s prop and partner in crime Tom Calton-Whitaker, who didn’t stop all game with his ball-carrying exploits, crossing the gain line on the vast majority of occasions.
After another Calton-Whitaker drive, Barraclough picked up a ball on the short side around 15 metres out and popped the ball to Wilkinson, who found himself out on the wing. A deft jink and an overhead pass back inside found Barraclough, and he gratefully received the ball before crashing over for an excellent team try.
The game thereafter was nip and tuck, with both sides looking dangerous.
It wasn’t until the last five minutes that Colne pushed forward, and despite losing the ball, kept the pressure on Clitheroe with their solid defence.
A clearing kick didn’t get the distance required, and it was returned with some fervour to score Colne’s final try of the game to give them a lead of seven points, meaning Clitheroe would need at least a converted try to draw.
This certainly didn’t deter this feisty Clitheroe side. They progressed downfield with some concerted drives from Calton-Whitaker and Brown, and after Colne conceded numerous penalties on their own line, Wilkinson took a pop ball from Brown and squeezed over on the left edge to score a great try.
With normal kicker Duck not available, Wilkinson took on the conversion from five yards in from the touchline.
With some deep breaths and a hush from around the ground, Wilkinson struck the ball beautifully and the ball sailed through the uprights to level the game with what was the final kick.
This weekend, Clitheroe travel to Eccles, a side who are only just above them in the league.