Taff remembered as draw a point of Kirk frustration
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.
Ormskirk and Clitheroe get stuck into the slippery conditions