After last week’s cobweb-blowing exercise, an improved performance was the minimum requirement for Clitheroe in their first away game of the season.
In some parts they delivered on this; the work rate was vastly improved, the tight set-piece play was solid enough, and the young guns in the back showed flashes of promise .
The problems in ball retention, communication and general sharpness will come, and are eminently fixable with the right amount of application.
The injury and unavailability list is already problematic for captain Will Dickenson – who was sidelined with a calf problem.
Then loosing Matthew Furbush and James Pate in the dying minutes of the game will cause further headaches.
Furbush looks the longer term absentee with shoulder ligament damage.
Clitheroe book ended this game with a 10-minute period of dominance when they scored all their points – a penalty kick for James Dickinson in the first half and a try from Sam Thornber late in the second.
In between, Clitheroe were mostly under the cosh, though their first up defence was reasonably effective and kept Bury out for long periods. However, their profligacy with the ball at times was exasperating and often put themselves under undue pressure.
The better side won on the day, so Clitheroe must regroup positively during the week for a tough encounter with Ashton under Lyne at Littlemoor this Saturday (3 p.m.).
Clitheroe Cavaliers maintained their successful start to this year’s campaign at Littlemoor on Saturday.
In the first 15 minutes, Rochdale controlled the ball and therefore the proceedings bringing their big runners into play time and time again.
At this point, playing a flanker at 10 proved genius as Darren Eagle was more than happy to bring his trademark chop tackling.
It also gave Sam Tarbuck the chance to show off his classy defence as he joined in the defensive effort, while the tight five were always willing to throw something in the way of their opposition.
Effective enough to convince Rochdale to take a three-pointer rather than to contiue trying to burst over the line after 17 minutes.
It was the first time in 177 minutes of rugby that Kirk Kenyon’s men had found themselves behind this season.
Rochdale’s bigger lads were feeling the pressure in the set piece.
Garth Spencer continued a fine run of form, scoring a superb try from the back of the scrum and adding the extras.
The Maroons knew they needed to build on the set piece dominance and squeeze the running out of Rochdale.
As it was, they didn’t get the chance as Danny Cowgill took a pass from a very poorly dealt with kick-off, engaged the after burners and went half the length of the field, beating six tacklers – no extras this time.
After another shaky restart, the pack were eventually able to assert some control over the ball, and with their favoured pick and drive approach going well, worked up the pitch.
The pack went for a push over try from a penalty but came up short.
Luckily, three breakdowns later, Jaime Taylor crashed over with a Rochdale flanker on his back.
The pack made a compete hash of the next restart, allowing Rochdale to run at the defence, and this time it was breached, with the conversion missed.
And just before half-time, Mike Floyd scorched through the Rochdale three quarters in a well-worked move, with the extras added to make it 24-8 to the hosts.
In the second half , the Maroon line was breached again, but the Clitheroe reply was immediate.
From a line out, Sam Tarbuck leapt like a salmon, delivering quick clean ball to scrum half Spencer, who fed Eagle, who ran at the Rochdale defence and shimmed past their 10 in time to feed a flying Floyd.
The contest was over with 46 minutes gone as, with the extras, the score read 31-13.
The Clitheroe back three were solid at the back throughout the match, and Joe Smith and Austin combined well from deep, leaving Smith to race from halfway and score one for the scrap book, extras added.
Eagle then crafted a wonderful opening for Tom Hardman to score his first try, before Richard Thornber went half the pitch for a classy finish to the match.
Saturday, the seconds are at Thornton.
On Sunday, Clitheroe Senior Colts beat league leaders Wigan 31-17 at Littlemoor, with tries from Matt Mason, Dom Wright, Pat Enion, Joe Wilkinson and Joe Clarke.