|Clifton Rugby Football Club History||
v Bracknell 29th November 2008
Sometimes you need luck to win a league and this game against the 4th place Bracknell played at Cribbs Causeway gave Clifton their 10th straight win to go 6 points clear at the top of the league.
The Evening Post reported
Clifton 17 Bracknell 15: Clifton made it 10 straight wins and opened up a six-point gap in South West One, but they were given an almighty scare by fourth-placed Bracknell.
Bracknell dominated most of the match and were very unfortunate not to be travelling back along the M4 with the points, while Clifton’s nearest rivals, Redingensians, lost at home to Bournemouth.
Clifton looked short of ideas and leadership – they were missing their skipper Dan Frost and vice-captain John Levis.
The visiting team looked more like title contenders than their hosts until a blunder in second-half injury-time by fly-half Jervis Manupenu, who was otherwise faultless, handed an early Christmas present to the Henbury-based side.
Manupenu’s fumble, in an attempt to clear his lines, fell nicely for Clifton lock Paul Reid, who dived on the loose ball to bring the scores level. Fly-half John Barnes converted to win the match.
Clifton scored first with a fourth-minute Barnes penalty, and it looked like business as usual with the home side in the ascendancy.
On the 20-minute mark the tide began to turn, though, as the visitors began to dominate.
Centre Nick Shears glided in after Bracknell’s pack repeatedly hammered at the Clifton line, and he converted his own try.
The hosts were unable to deal with the ferocity of the visitors’ defence, which forced Barnes to direct Clifton from behind the advantage line or kick possession away.
A further Shears penalty made it 8-3 but on the stroke of half-time Bracknell lock Jason Borechard was yellow-carded for handling in the ruck.
Bracknell extended their lead when Manupenu danced his way past a mesmerised Clifton defence for a converted try to make it 15-3 with 10 minutes of normal time remaining.
From the restart, hooker Joe Skelton was sin-binned for stamping; again reducing Bracknell to 14 men.
Clifton managed to work former England wing David Rees free to score out wide, with Barnes converting to reduce the gap to five points heading into injury time.
Shears was then yellow-carded for persistent infringement and from the resulting penalty, Clifton opted for a scrum but lost it against the head.
The game now looked over for the hosts but as the ball was passed back to Manupenu, he spilt possession and Reid pounced. Barnes converted to save Clifton’s blushes.
The Bracknell Times were less complimentary and said
"Teams have ‘dirty wins’ but this game plunged the term to new depths because on 73 minutes Bracknell were comfortably holding the league leaders and winning by 15-3. Then, referee Mr Adam Friend sin binned the Bracknell skipper Ben Nowak to join hooker Joe Shelton following his yellow card on 68 minutes. But for the 13 brave Bracknell defenders left on the pitch it was a challenge too far as Clifton scored the winning points and the referee blew the final whistle."