Clitheroe win epic semi final in quest for silverware
Third time lucky in a Final?
Clitheroe travelled down to Prenton for a semi final fixture knowing that a hard task lay ahead in the heat and against a strong home side.
Apart from a couple of injuries Clitheroe had a strong squad and knew that they would need everyone in the baking heat.
The game kicked off and it seemed that the visitors were still in the car park. A lack of aggression in defence allowed Prenton to have the perfect start crossing for 2 early tries, both of which were converted.
It was at this point Clitheroe came alive. The visitors gained possession, managing to go through phase after phase with the Prenton defence targeting any mistakes that may be made.
The forwards went through the phases, Will Dickenson [pictured] leading from the front as always, ably assisted by Pate and Hayton. The rejuvenated Few at scrum half made a quick break, the forwards rolled it on and an overlap was created with Vaghetti putting Railton into space to cross the line for an excellent try. Cuddy added the conversion and the visitors were in the game.
Clitheroe were playing well but then the excellent James Dickinson had to leave the field with the versatile Eagle going into the back line and Shorthouse coming into the back row.
At this point Prenton came back into the game, and scored another try after strong carries from there forwards. This was converted and another penalty added to leave the score at halftime 24-7 to the hosts.
A season defining half time team talk from the Captain and senior player Robertson galvanised the Clitheroe team to reach their potential.
Penney was replaced by Graves at half time and the front row was reorganised with Will Dickenson going to hooker. Penney has been excellent all season gave it absolutely everything during an exhausting first half.
Clitheroe tore out of the blocks at the beginning of the second half, gaining plenty of ball through the forwards going through the phases. Few and Vaghetti were combining superbly managing Clitheroe’s game and after a period of pressure Pate crashed over to score and Cuddy added the extras.
Good squad and game management on this hot hot day ensured that replacements were made at the right times ensuring the team remained effective. The ageless Eagle was replaced in the centres by Cuddy as Few moved to the wing and the flying Scotsman (?) Robertson slotted in at scrum half. Smith dropped to full back and Clitheroe maintained their fluency.
The next play saw the ball move through the hands of the backs and Floyd finished excellently and with Cuddy adding the conversion it was now 24-21 and the momentum with the visitors.
Spence replaced Hayton, who had put in a huge shift at lock, and Clitheroe won a penalty within lockable range. In a season defining moment, Captain Dickenson displayed calmness and opted for a kick to touch.
The line out was won deep in Prenton territory and Chamberlain crashed over to score the try to take the lead. This was just reward for Chamberlain who had a great game. No extras added but the visitors were in the lead.
More changes were made with the energetic Nat Dickenson being replaced by Eagle and Chamberlain was replaced by Hayton as the heat took its toll on both teams.
Prenton now had the upper hand and Clitheroe responded magnificently in defence. A penalty was conceded but poor discipline let the hosts down and it was reversed and a yellow card to a home player.
However the drama wasn’t over...Prenton charged down Vaghetti and crossed the line to take the lead 29-26
Commitment on the pitch from the Clitheroe team this season has been superb and back the visitors came. Another line out from a penalty and although the attacking maul didn’t go as planned, Clitheroe went through the phases. Prenton conceded a penalty and Sam Thornber, who has been in excellent form since his return, took a quick tap and go to cross the line! Cuddy missed the conversion ( to add to the tension) and with a couple of minutes to go Prenton heaped the pressure on.
Clitheroe defended as if their lives depended on it and held firm to reach the final. A brilliant game, a brilliant performance by every one of the squad.
No one was man of the match as the whole squad were responsible for this victory.
The final is at Wigan where Clitheroe will face old rivals Newton le Willows, kick off being 2.30 pm.
A bus will be travelling from the club (see website for details) for supporters to shout this team on to the victory they deserve.
Report by SD