Taff re­mem­bered as draw a point of Kirk frus­tra­tion

Southport Visiter - - Visiter Life - BY NORMAN HALL

AWET Satur­day af­ter­noon greeted the visit of Clitheroe to Green Lane, but be­fore the game pro­ceeded, play­ers from both sides lined up for a re­spect­ful one minute’s si­lence in mem­ory of Orm­skirk Rugby Club stal­wart Richie “Taff” Gib­bon who sadly, re­cently passed away.

The rainy weather did not dampen the two teams’ en­thu­si­asm as the game got off to a hec­tic open­ing 15 min­utes which pro­duced four scores.

Orm­skirk be­gan on a pos­i­tive note, for­wards and backs com­bin­ing to take the ball deep into the vis­i­tors’ 22.

A dropped ball al­lowed Clitheroe to break clear up to within 15 me­tres of the home try line, only des­per­ate de­fence keep­ing them out.

Orm­skirk were over ea­ger at the break­down, a penalty was awarded and Clitheroe put the first points on the board with the kick.

On the front foot from the restart, Orm­skirk im­me­di­ately hit back as Clitheroe were deemed off­side at the ruck and Gareth Lit­tle stroked the penalty kick though the up­rights to bring the scores level.

Clitheroe re­gained the ball from their own kick off and tried to run it down the blind side.

A short pop pass was in­ter­cepted by skip­per Mike Knowles and he sprinted the 50 me­tres to score, Gareth Lit­tle adding the con­ver­sion for a 10-3 lead.

This score did lit­tle to dampen Clitheroe’s en­thu­si­asm and as they be­gan to gain the up­per hand in the scrum sit­u­a­tion, they again pressed hard.

Ball won at a line out was fol­lowed by four driv­ing mauls be­fore the ball was re­leased to their back­line.

A show and go by the Clitheroe cen­tre broke the Orm­skirk de­fen­sive line and a clean pass put his winger over to bring the score within two points at 10-8.

Both sides were will­ing to run the ball and the Clitheroe cen­tres showed that they could be dan­ger­ous in pos­ses­sion, but the wet con­di­tions were prov­ing a test for both sides as a loss of con­trol of the ball at cru­cial times pre­vented the scores in­creas­ing.

Orm­skirk were pro­duc­ing some good con­tin­u­ous play, go­ing through the phases with for­ward driv­ing and strong run­ning by the backs. Winger Tom Owens was given space to at­tack the line, only to be stopped short. The pres­sure was main­tained by Gareth Lit­tle also be­ing held up short on two oc­ca­sions. Frus­trat­ingly for the home side ex­cel­lent cover tack­ling by Clitheroe and mis­han­dles at the last mo­ment pre­vented them go­ing fur­ther ahead. Just be­fore half time, back row Lee Ar­row­smith be­gan a surg­ing run, break­ing through tack­les as he headed for the line. Again the Clitheroe de­fence man­aged to pro­tect their try line and the ball was forced into touch. The Orm­skirk li­ne­out worked well and prop for­ward Kieran Wil­liams-Den­ton crashed over for a de­served 15-8 in­ter­val lead. The sec­ond half fol­lowed a sim­i­lar pat­tern with Orm­skirk spend­ing large pe­ri­ods of time in the Clitheroe half but un­able to con­vert this ter­ri­to­rial ad­van­tage into points.

Clitheroe al­ways looked dan­ger­ous on the counter at­tack, pounc­ing on any Orm­skirk mis­takes to launch for­ays into the home half.

Their scrum was still hav­ing the up­per hand and this proved cru­cial mid way through the half.

An Orm­skirk scrum was driven back­wards and Clitheroe won the ball which was driven strongly up field.

Orm­skirk de­fended well but the Clitheroe for­wards drove closer to the home line, bat­ter­ing away at the de­fences they even­tu­ally forced their way over to bring a 15-15 score.

As in the first pe­riod the restart looked to prove cru­cial as Clitheroe dropped the wet kick off ball.

The Orm­skirk for­wards gath­ered it and for­aged up field look­ing to re­gain the lead.

The Clitheroe de­fences were not as well or­gan­ised, the try looked on but the wet ball again came into play as it slipped out of Orm­skirk hands with the try line beg­ging.

For the fi­nal 15 min­utes the match could have gone ei­ther way, with both sides hav­ing scor­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties.

In the end a draw was a fair re­flec­tion of the play, but both sides will prob­a­bly see this as a missed op­por­tu­nity.

Orm­skirk will be the more dis­ap­pointed as they cre­ated a lot of try scor­ing sit­u­a­tions that on a drier day may have been con­verted.

Their next match will be away, again ver­sus Clitheroe on Oc­to­ber 21 in the Alan Stone Lan­cashire Bowl cup com­pe­ti­tion.

Im­ages by Vince El­lis

Orm­skirk and Clitheroe get stuck into the slip­pery con­di­tions

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