Defeat on travels for Clitheroe
By Roger Holmes
Cold Reverse at Manchester
Clitheroe suffered their first defeat since the league split and it certainly left a few questions unanswered after a game of two halves away at North Manchester.
The game kicked off in freezing conditions at North’s ground and in the early exchanges it was the hosts who exerted the pressure. It seemed as if Clitheroe lacked intensity that was shown by North. It was no surprise when the hosts crossed the line for their first try as they were dominating territory and possession. The visitors received another blow when Chris Stewart was forced off with an injury and the reshuffle allowed Hayton and Shorthouse to replace Eagle, who went into the back line, and Kenyon.
North Manchester’s line speed was good, their play in the loose allowed them to slow Clitheroe’s ball down and despite some strong carries from Thornber and Will Dickenson the visitors were creating very little.
North have some quick talented players and they took their chances. It wasn’t long before the hosts had a two man attack on one defender on the wing and crossed to make the score 10-0. The wind prevented any extras being added.
Clitheroe started to wake up..pressure was exerted in the right area and the forwards started to look dangerous. The carries of Thornber in particular and Hayton were tying defenders and following a 5 minute period on the hosts line, Nat Dickenson crashed over for a score. No extras due to the conditions that even defeated the prolific Cuddy on the day.
A mention for Nat Dickenson, his try was much deserved and he brought the intensity required for the visitors with his tackling and loose play.
However..just when we thought there was light at the end of the tunnel..the maroon and golds turned the ball over deep in the opposition half and a North player ran the length of the field to score their third try of the half. The half finished 15-5 to the hosts.
The second half began and Clitheroe started to dominate in the forwards. Rigby was excellent in the loose and Graves carried well and looked dangerous. Few and Vaghetti started to get quicker ball, Slinger and Eagle combined well and it was clear that Schinkel’s half time talk had had an effect.
However, the ball was turned over again, North capitalised and crossed under posts and with the extras added, the visitors were looking at a mountain to get back in the game.
This seemed to galvanise Clitheroe and for the last 30 minutes they played as they can. In conditions suited to a close game they improved their rucking, game management and the back line complimented this. Penney, who was solid in challenging conditions, was replaced by Chamberlain. Cathcart at full back tackled well, Cuddy always looks dangerous and Floyd went well with the ball in hand.
The presence of Chamberlain and Schinkel added to Clitheroe’s dominance in the loose and following a rolling maul, Schinkel crossed to make it 22-10.
The visitors were in the ascendancy and following more pressure on the hosts line a penalty was conceded by North. The visitors opted for a scrum and the pressure was so great on North that they conceded a further penalty at the scrum and a penalty try was awarded. 22-17...was the comeback on?
With just minutes remaining North were awarded a penalty in front of the posts, it was kicked and game over. Final score 25-17 and a snow blizzard descended!
Clitheroe played as they can for 35 minutes of the game. That was the difference and the hosts deserved their victory.
There were some good performances, notably Nat Dickenson and Thornber, but Clitheroe’s man of the match was Captain Will Dickenson for his all round play and commitment.
This Saturday, 24th March, Clitheroe must return to winning ways against old rivals Newton le Willows. Consistency in availability is the key to this season.