Fantastic Derby Win for Clitheroe
By Roger Holmes
Up to 3rd in table
After the cancellation of last week mission due to shore leave this week so captain's Kirk's[pictured] men line up for a good old fashioned local Derby against a Blackburn side who have been struggling for form in the league this year.
The Cavaliers themselves have been suffering from a dip in performance over the last month after their exceptional start to the season. So all to play for.
Kirks men knew the visitors were keen when they had actually completed their warm up whilst the Clitheroe lads were still convening. Still the cavaliers have built their own pre game rituals over the last two or three seasons. A bit of banter, gentle stretch the odd pass some very light jogging a bit more banter and then a couple of team runs.
Kirky magnanimously lost the toss and Blackburn chose to kick, Clitheroe faced them up the hill with the wind behind them.
What followed was a good old fashioned hard fought Derby. Both sides went at each other very hard and from the off. Credit to Blackburn if they keep putting in performances like that they will soon start turning over sides and climb the table rapidly. As they have throughout the season the marron worked very hard in defense and did an effective job of nullifying the the Blackburn back row in the opening stages. John Blackburn clearly enjoyed putting some of his old teams down as he worked tirelessly in the loose and ably assisted by the ever versatile kino Blackburn struggled to make much ground. Such was the defense that Blackburn opted for three points when they won a penalty about 10m into the Clitheroe half. The penalty was nudged wide and Clitheroe were able to work there way up the pitch.
The tight contest was very even in the opening 20 with neither 8 gaining much at scrum time but Clitheroe were on top at the line out mainly due to the presence of Darren Eagle ably 'supported' by Shreds, making a welcome return from injury and captain kirk.
As the game wore on however the Clitheroe set piece as it has for so much of the season began to gain the upper hand allowing the back line to start showing off some of its skills.
I would say this was certainly one of the most talented (and they would say best looking) three quarter lines that Clitheroe have fielded. Token at ten Marshall Ed Anthony and Sam at 12/13 wonderfully and sure enough they combined to create the first score. Token added the extras.
Blackburn were not in the mood to roll over and were playing some good rugby of their own getting the better of the breakdown interpretation from the ref. The cavaliers knew that they would have to score again.
Having weathered the Blackburn response super Dan Jones and Kino combined (by accident) with a perfect high low hit Blackburn spilled the ball and the ever vigilant Simon Wirgley at 9 moved the ball to Token who smashed the ball 22 to 22 with a fabulous kick.
By this time Shreds needed a pint so swapped with another truly legend of the club Harry Pund at prop. Pundy is an example to everyone at the club of what being a club man is all about, doesnt moan, is tough as old boots and always puts in a shift.
Clitheroe had a line out in Blackburn territory, a two ball lob off the top successfully completed, crash ball one, recycled crash ball two by captain kirk (which thankfully he held onto) and then wide to start a wonderful move where Token, Anthony and Sam White combined, Token went round the blackburn 10 and waited for their 12 to come in to cover as the 12 obliged he slipped a pass to Anthony who fixed the 13 and then fed Sam who sped through the half gap to score and beautiful try.
Again Blackburn responded and were eventually rewarded when their number 8 crashed over in the corner on the half time whistle.
The wind picked up in the second half which gave Burn some assistance and nullified the maroons ability to clear their lines. It was a great defense effort and a great game with both teams going hard at each. The Clitheroe scrum became increasingly dominant as Chris Burchill worked his magic on his old team mates giving a stable platform from which the Maroons were able to build another attack and were rewarded with a Scintillating finish from full back Connor Smith to build a 17-5 cushion.
Again Blackburn came back and were camped in the homesides 22. They were held up twice by desperate maroon defence and one spectacular hit from Connor saved a certain five pointer as the ball was dislodged. Blackburn's driving line out which had been largely nullified by the marron pack created problems down the left hand side of the pitch it was eventually stopped and Burn went right where their efforts were rewarded with a score just in from the corner. The extras were missed.
17-10 with ten to play. Blackburn tails were up. In the last few minutes Clitheroe once again responded with a series of big hits eventually forcing the Burn 8 to spill the ball in contact. The maroon pack shoved the blackburn pack down the hill and were rewarded with the sight of Sam bulldozing his way over the Burn 10 and then clearing half the length of the pitch to ride the full backs tackle and score. BOOM. Full Time great game great win.