Pennine League Division Two Central: Clayton 18 Queensbury 14

THE sturdy boot of Clayton’s unflappable centre Ryan Wilkinson proved the decisive factor in a blood and thunder Pennine League Division Two Central derby against Queensbury at the Lidget Green Oval.

Bury swept upfield from the kick-off in a declaration of intent, and when the hosts were penalised for holding down in the tackle, a quick tap and run helped full back Gregg Marriott scamper over at the side of the posts to leave prop Mike Boocock to add on the extras.

Clayton full back Jimmy Waddington was narrowly denied when centre Jack McMillan kicked the ball dead in goal shortly afterwards, but their relentless pressure on the Bury line eventually bore fruit when hooker Luke Barnes burrowed over from the ruck, allowing Wilkinson to level the scores at 6-6.

Queensbury’s well-drilled defence was proving a tough nut to crack, but with just two minutes left to the interval, the Villagers found a breach in their armour when substitute Elliott McElroy spotted the smallest of gaps to squeeze over the chalk to give them a slight advantage at 10-6.

The big question was if Clayton's slender four-point half-time lead was enough defending the huge slope, and the answer came almost immediately from the restart when stand-off Jack Bowman launched a mighty up and under into the swirling wind, which Wilkinson collected and offloaded to wingman Mike Cunliffe, who dived over.

The blue and whites were pinned down by Bowman’s astute kicking game but they broke the shackles at last when the ball was shipped across the line, allowing centre Brett Marriott the opportunity to time a clever pass to send wingman Chris Hanson en route to the corner.

At 14-10, the game was up for grabs and the hosts breathed a welcome sigh of relief when Wilkinson slotted over a penalty on the hour.

Bury responded by hammering the home line, and when Hanson collected his brace following another lightning raid, their hopes returned.

However, they were dashed once more when Wilkinson slotted over another penalty bang on the final whistle.