Kirkys Troops Pipped on Final Saturday
By Roger Holmes
Hot but proud Skipper
Easter Saturday in glorious summer like sunshine saw Clitheroe take to the field welcoming Vale of Lune 4s to Littlemoor, to finish off the season in 4 North .
The maroons started at the bottom of the slope receiving the kick, taken cleanly for a change by the returning Lewis Riley from injury ; charging straight at the Vale forwards. Ball won, shipped out, & with good hands from Joe WeldBlundell to Connor White at ten. He worked with a lovely switch with his brother, Sam, who took the contact.Unfortunately Vale were quicker to the breakdown & got the turn over; and in what was a well worked move - saw the ball in two passes to the full back, who stepped one maroon defender and had the legs to make the line.
For the second time in two weeks Clitheroe found themselves 0-5 inside ten mins .
With no extras added, it was then the maroons turn to put Vale under pressure from the restart. Both sides were physical at the breakdown the game ebbed and flowed from 22 to 22 for the next fifteen mins.
The forwards dug in; exemplified in the shape of the youthful John Bank driving forward and the big lads piling in over the top to win the ball. JWB shipped it to Connor, a little step & he floated the pass to Matt Furbush cutting back inside. Riley supported well into contact and Caleb Brown and Ross Chamberlain were on hand for clear out. A short ball popped up to the skipper who rolled the tackle and gave a little offload to Danny Cowgill .
The ball headed left through the hands to Matt Bleasdale out to impress the larger than normal entourage,(cue Beatlemania type scenes) He popped it up to Adam Penney, who after talk of try of the season the week before looked in to add another, but Vale had other ideas and like a pack of orcs dragged him to ground inches from the line. The ball recycled quickly and JWB and the brothers White skipped and danced through the Vale wall for Connor to score by the left upright. Connors boot also added the extras.
From the restart, again taken cleanly,the ball was shipped right to season stalwart Phil 'Forrest' Winstanley. On catching the pass, he stepped the first and pinned back his ears, showing he still has plenty of pace. Only the full back dumping him into touch on the 22, stopping him from getting that elusive try .
The line out was to be a messy affair with ball not collected cleanly saw the Vale centre pick the loose ball and run in to the corner, no extras added; 7-10 to Vale at the half time whistle.
Couple of changes at the break saw the young colts Oscar Duck And Patrick 'the enforcer' Enion on for Caleb Brown and Forrest respectively.
The maroon pack was now charging down the slope, basking in the sunshine. Then with a gnashing of teeth and a blood curdling grunt the pack fired up it the breakdown
Winning the ball and off again, building the phases and then forcing a penalty fairly central. The points option opted for, the maroons watched it go just wide of the left upright.
This was to be the last of the scoring options and following 25 mins were nothing short of brutal. Both teams tackling as if their lives depended on it.
With the departure of Jim Smith saw more changes; Chamberlain moved back to his favourite position of prop alongside veteran John Pundy Proctor. An unlikely pack replacement appeared in the shape of James Dickinson have a go at second row to finish out the match. But after the jubilation at a hard fought victory last week, the second half was a stalemate to the whistle :7-10 to Vale.
Huge special thanks to both Big Ben Tenant and Simon Gretton who both made themselves available and for the first time all season did not get over the whitewash to add their touch of something to the proceedings [an error on the skippers part one not to be repeated for next season.]
Speaking of next season that will loom large before the last bbq has cooled. From the players through to the water boys, team photographers, entourages, wags and associated hangers on.... here's to the next thrilling campaign.
Report by KK