Well the crowd certainly got value for money in Clitheroe’s 17-15 triumph over Bury – as one observer understated after this tense and close battle at Littlemoor.
With the result in the balance right up to the final whistle, it was not one for those of a nervous disposition.
Clitheroe kicked off down the slope, however, Bury came out of the blocks with a high-tempo game which had the Maroons scrambling to hold on in the early exchanges.
Eventually the line was breached and Clitheroe found themselves under the posts watching the conversion sail over after just five minutes.
Clitheroe began to work themselves into the game, skipper Will Dickenson leading by example, taking the game to the Bury defence.
Clitheroe began to get a foothold in the game and worked up a head of steam through the pack. The tight five supertankers made relentless yardage, James Pate and Tom Walton in the thick of it, before back row glory boys Darren Eagle and Richard Slinger combined to put the latter over. Jonny Cuddy converted and the home team were ahead.
Clitheroe continued this period of dominance and were looking sharp in the backs, where Vaghetti and James Dickinson combined profitably in the 12 channel, but the final pass would not just go to hand.
However, Clitheroe eventually forced a good field position yards from the Bury line, and after a couple of botched chances went begging, a driving maul from a line out saw Eagle claim the score.
Cuddy slotted the extras to put Clitheroe in a handy 12-5 lead.
Bury came back with a try of their own to give the Littlemoor men a slender 14-10 half-time lead.
Clitheroe spent the next 30 minutes under the severest of examinations, bogged down inside their own 22.
Finally, after some heroic defending, the line was ruptured and Bury took the lead, by a point, with 10 minutes remaining.
James Cathcart made a slicing break through and seemed destined to score, but some excellent cover defence from the visitors dragged him down just yards out.
Clitheroe had field position, but as time slipped away they couldn’t keep the ball long enough. Bury’s line held firm, but a wayward clearance enabled the ball to be driven up hard again. Over eagerness at the ruck gave advantage to Clitheroe, and to everyone’s relief, a kick at goal was chosen. Up stepped the nerveless Cuddy to coolly slot the clinching points for a deserved win for Clitheroe.
Clitheroe roll on to Ashton under Lyne this Saturday, still with a mathematical chance of making the top four.
Clitheroe seconds lost 64-7 at Hawcoat Park seconds.
Park were able to score six unanswered tries, four of which were converted, to leave Clitheroe 38-0 down.
Clitheroe were very unlucky to concede another try, having put together a string of 10 phases by hitting the fringes of the breakdown and using the strength and experience of their pack to great effect.
When the ball was released to the backs, the excellent Park 10, who looked offside, robbed Miles and then, for the fourth time, Park proceeded to run the length of the pitch. The extras were added.
At the half Clitheroe were down by 50 and staring into the abyss.
Clitheroe camped out in the Park 22 for the majority of the second half, but Park broke and scored a fifth length-of-the-pitch try, and Clitheroe suffered a lapse from the kick-off allowing Park over for the final time.
At 64-0 most teams would have accepted the referee’s offer to blow up after 70 minutes, but Clitheroe declined and worked their way into the Park 22, and eventually were awarded a scrum 15 minutes out.
The tight five marched the Park pack backwards and were rewarded by the sight of Chamberlin smashing over the whitewash.
The Junior Colts beat Burnley 29-7 in their first match of 2018, with scores from Wilkinson, Duck, Rob Lee, Brown, Hamlet and Stanley.