Clitheroe overcome Ashton in the mud.
Three from Four in the League
Clitheroe s 1st XV overcame a resilient Ashton side in the mud at Littlemoor but it wasn't one for the purists!
There were two questions that lingered in the minds of the Littlemoor crowd on Saturday. Firstly..whatever happened to dry Septembers? And secondly, why don't Clitheroe start as they finish?
With a number of absences in the back line for this fixture , you may have been forgiven for thinking that this was going to be a weakness for the maroons...but with the returning Jonny Cuddy and Martin Lanfranceschina and with Graham Hansen and Dan 'smudge' Smith being promoted from the 2s this was far from the case.
Clitheroe started the game in a lethargic manner and got dragged into an arm wrestle with the large Ashton pack. With the scrum just about stable and the line out going well through Andrew Rigby, enough ball was generated for the backs to create gaps and space. With the exception of an early break for Cuddy, there was little evidence of this as the game got bogged down..literally..with penalties and knock ons.
Ashton were the first to score and deservedly so after a number of phases through good forward pressure. The try was converted and Clitheroe knew they needed to up their tempo.
Eventually the maroon forwards got into the game and quick ball was generated allowing a period of pressure on the Ashton line. Ben Graves came close as somehow the line wasn't crossed during sustained pressure. Captain Will Dickenson rallied the troops and suddenly the home side showed glimpses of what they can do.
Eventually the excellent Cuddy (pictured) was given space and he easily outpaced his opposite number and touched down in the corner. Simple rugby had generated the best move and with an excellent conversion the scores were level at half time.
The second half began and Clitheroe began with much needed urgency. They dominated territory and James Pate made good ground as Smith and Marco Vaghetti combined well and the maroons started looking dangerous.
A word on Vaghetti..a great performance..but he seems to never trouble the dry cleaners..on a day like this that was some feat!
Richard Slinger and James Cathcart were looking dangerous and following good pressure the ball went through the hands and Cuddy scored in the corner for his second. Clitheroe were in the ascendancy but injury struck and they lost the tenacious Struan Robertson and the bullish Ross Chamberlain.
Hopefully they won't be long term as these two have been at the centre of much that is good in the pack this year. Nat Dickenson and Luke Hayton arrived and both had excellent impacts. Clitheroe were dominating in the loose and creating good chances that they didn't manage to take. Following a penalty Cuddy added the 3 points and further scores looked inevitable.
With Ashton on the back foot another penalty was awarded and converted. 18-7 to the home side and debutante Richard Maudsley arrived and made a lightning break only to be hauled down just short of the line. Hopefully we will see a lot more of him in the maroon and gold.
A mention for Darren Eagle..his contribution was immense, much of his work unseen but very effective.
With territorial pressure telling on Ashton, they conceded a line out and from the ensuing line out, Clitheroe set up a driving maul and captain Dickenson bulldozed over to score a deserved try. The extras were added and further chances came and went and final score was 25-7 to the maroon and golds.
Man of the match was Cuddy with an excellent game and next week Clitheroe will need to be at their best for a tough away trip to Ormskirk.
Clitheroe deserved the victory against a courageous Ashton side, should have scored more perhaps but need to start as they finish!!
Report by SD