Clitheroe work hard for home win
By Roger Holmes
First 'w' of the season
Clitheroe recorded their first 'W' of the season at the third time of asking with a gritty victory over Ashton under Lyne at Littlemoor.
Trailing at the interval, Clitheroe secured their points with some no nonsense rugby; taking any point scoring opportunities on hand and keeping the scoreboard ticking over to record the win.
After the monsoon of the preceding two days the pitch was in fine fettle – firm and dry. Plus along with the early autumnal weather it made for a perfect day for rugby.
Still searching for the first win of the season the selectors had rung the changes; some enforced through injuries and in season holidays and some tactically.
In the back line, there was a debut for new recruit Patrick Boyers in the centres with Struan Robertson, James Cathcart & Martin Lafranceschina recalled at scrum half, wing and fullback respectively.
Up front, after a storming display off the bench last week Jarvis Stanton started at lock. Another new recruit Sam Tarbuck, was included in the back row and amongst a heavyweight bench was the welcome sight of 1st XV skipper Will Dickenson making his way back from injury.
The first half with Clitheroe playing down the slope was a cagey affair with neither side managing to take control of the game. Ashton dominated the territory, as they did all game, but the possession stats were more even.
It took half an hour for anyone to trouble the scoreboard, when some lazy defending off the scrum saw the visitors scrum half made easy yardage and put his wing over in the corner. No conversion, but it at least made the Littlemoor men sit up and take notice.
Stirred out of their lethargy they began to gain a small foothold in the Ashton half and although not particularly threatening with ball in hand, managed to gain a kickable penalty , which Lanfranceschina [pic] slotted over.
The rolling subs were used early on to keep up the momentum, Dickenson on in the front row for Ben Graves and Ross Chamberlain on for Andrew Rigby who retired with a speck of dust in his eye.
Just 3-5 then at half time with it all to play for in the second half.
An early penalty put Clitheroe one point ahead and with it boosted their confidence to play some more positive attacking rugby.
A break out of his own half saw Stuart Railton make good yardage and created a good field position. Then a deft short pass from Boyers to Matt Bleasedale coming on a nice angle left the tall wingman within inches of the line , but a with a long one armed stretch he dotted the ball down for his try. The extras we added and expectation was in the air that the home side would kick on to a decent score.
A couple more penalties created a nice cushion before Ashton came back into the game in the last quarter.
Their big forwards picked and drove for what seemed an eternity on the Clitheroe line and eventually they scored a converted try to give Clitheroe the final ten minute jitters.
Another penalty from the trusty boot of Lafranceschina soothed the nerves and Clitheroe managed to play out the game with no further scoring.
Nowhere near a complete performance from the town team but some good individual performances; Tarbuck was effective in the back row as was Boyers in the centres. Both will improve in future weeks when they blend into the team more.
Robertson and Cathcart again will improve with more match fitness, and there are a number of lads on the injury list nearing return to play to boost numbers even more.
Still plenty to do on the training paddock, but competition for places should keep the players keen for action.