Strong Hoppers Shade it at Sunny Littlemoor
By Roger Holmes
Spring was in the air at Littlemoor on Saturday when the might of Clitheroe 2nd string welcomed the combined might of Preston Grasshoppers 4th XV . A new look PGH team to face Clitheroe, in fact they must go through loads pf players at Lightfoot Green as there's a different line up every time we play!
All that was by the by, a the most pressing selection at selection was the selection of the Captain for the day. Kirky was on baby duty – so who was going to take up the golden captain's armband and lead the town team into battle?
Pundy Procter? A popular choice – with his vast repertoire of dramatic Shakespearean orations; once more into the breech ...aye. New boy Luke Mcmahon ? - a non stop machine gun of scouse sound bites ...eh....eh..calm down. Or even Phil 'forest' Winstanley? Top notch skills, a deep understanding of the game, a sound footballer.....mmmm the selectors thought. So by process of elimination; Happy Pete it is then...the wise ones concurred.
A splendid choice in retrospect for the cheerful 2nd XV stalwart to lead from the front. Well in Pete.
On to the game - and a late withdrawal brought super Colt Oscar Duck on to the bench, and then a late arrival brought him into the starting XV to join the other colts Patrick Enion and Caleb Brown in the squad. Other luminaries such as Adam 'SpaceJam' Penney, Geoff Williamson and tackle machine Simon Gretton were also poised to spring off the bench at moments notice.
Defending the North Stand in the first half, Clitheroe found themselves under the cosh early on as the Hoppers jumbo pack were used to great effect. Some man mountains were relentlessly pounding away at the the maroon wall and only some resolute defence kept the tide at bay. But a guilty of a little bit too much play in their own 22 and King Canute-like the tide breached the line for Hoppers to take the early lead.
Hoppers were soon at it again and with their half backs fizzing passes out to their backs, in a most ungentlemanly way for DIV 4N rugby, it looked like it may be a long afternoon for the almost capacity crowd of has beens and never wills watching from the grandstand.
But some rousing drives from the Skipper, Ross Chamberlain and John Bank put some belief back into the maroon hearts, and inspired by McMahon at outside half; a lovely break down the right saw some great hands from Matty Bleasedale [cue: high pitched cheering from the entourage], top notch open side flank support from Peter Shorthouse who set super Colt #1 Oscar scooting over in the corner. No extras this time .
Hoppers were next to score but more pressure from Clitheroe produced a penalty. Instructions from the captain were followed and McMahon slotted the goal to give PGH an 8-14 lead at the half time beverages.
Wise words from the skipper and DoR at the break had the desired effect and Hoppers were next to score.
Not to be out done Clitheroe began to ring the changes on the interchange bench. More youth was needed so on came Gretz and Pund followed by super colt #2 Caleb Brown.
A war of attrition built up as the visitors began to tire and Clitheroe sniffed blood. Indeed most of the last period they were camped in front of a packed North Stand driving for the line.
Tempers began to fray and Dan Smudge Smith, who had nothing to do with it, could only watch as a skirmish broke out on the floor.
The upshot? A severe talking to by the ref and a yellow card for both teams. However Clitheroe seemed to adapt the better , with Matt Furbush now at 10 after having a strong game and super Colt #3 Enion the Onion causing the fringe defence all sorts of bother.
A further close up drive and Niall Spence took the ball on and dragging a few over with him was in for a good score down in hellfire corner.
As Clitheroe were in the ascendancy the clock wound down far too quickly, and try as they might there was no further scoring.
A relatively low scoring game but plenty to keep the crowd entertained on a spring afternoon. Good rugby from both teams, big tackles, nice passing and a bit of biff, happy days.
Two games left for the 2's starting on the 13th April for their final road trip; this time to sunny Bolton.
DoR : Dave Watson
Waterboy: Adam Penney
Cheerleading Co-ordinator : Emma Mathieson