Bolton Mets are having to do it tough in 2014. With a new coach and an influx of new players the club had high expectations for the season but for various reasons it hasn’t quite gone according to plan.
With over 25 players unavailable for selection due to injury, work or family commitments, each team selection is constantly rotating and causing inconsistency. However, despite all the adversity this has brought out the true character of the players and the club, as in previous seasons this would have meant the team would have been unable to fulfil fixtures. Similarly, having to play several of the form teams from last year’s NWML Division 4, and playing 6 out of the first 7 games away from Bolton Rugby Club has taken its toll.
After everything, Bolton could still field a strong team versus Widnes Tigers, but with several players having to rotate positions it was always going to be a tough task to get anything out of the game. Widnes are a good team at Home and know how to win games, and as such they had control of the first half. A kick and chase led to the first try just 3 minutes into the game, before a solid 20 minute defensive display by Bolton kept them at bay. Three further tries where scored by the Tigers before half time, a couple of them a little fortunate with a lucky tip on that looked to have gone forward and a lucky catch by an on rushing player who managed to hold onto a short pass between his finger tips and his hip. With the half time whistle blown, Widnes led 22-0 but Bolton could still comeback to cause them problems in the second half.
Starting the second period strongly, Bolton made in roads due to excellent work by Andy Bowling and his fellow Prop Forward Dale Forrest. With both players never taking a backwards step, they caused the Tigers defence problems and led to Joe Harte barging his way over 4 minutes after the turnaround. Playing at Hooker for possibly the first time in his long career, local celebrity Mark Dorning slotted over the extra 2 points to keep up his 100% kicking record for the season.
Unfortunately, that was to be the only score for Bolton in the game but they came close on several other occasions. Some good ball handling from Dorning, Matt Gladwin and Danny Ryder meant the Mets continued to pressure the Tigers and kept them on their toes. This allowed Tom Everard the opportunity to show his strength and ability from Second Row with several strong runs that saw him bust tackles and make a break or at least draw in four defenders to bring him down. Unfortunately, his last barnstorming effort led to an ankle injury that put an end to his day.
The Widnes half back pairing were very organised and this meant they were able to move the Bolton defence one way and then find gaps when swinging the ball back across the field. A break away try put them back in control, before a scrappy try opened up the gap further. Before the end of the game they managed to cross the line twice more to take the score to 42-6.
The score line doesn’t truly reflect the Mets performance but full credit must go to the Tigers for the win. The ever growing injury list for Bolton gained another couple of casualties but hopefully nothing to serious with Everard, Gladwin, Andy Roberts and Jonathan Proudman the four players to leave the field with injuries. Bolton seem to be having a dreadful run of luck with injuries but hopefully the bad luck will run out sooner rather than later.
Several players played out of their skins and put themselves in the running for the oppositions Man of the Match award, including Paul Leigh, Lee Semark, Dale Forrest and Ryan Terry, but Andy Bowling took the honour. Tom Everard playing his first game in the pack came second with Joe Harte third. Lee Semark was picked out as the Top Tackler due to his several last ditch tackles after switching to Full Back from the Wing.
The feeling after the game from both Coach Marc Simon and Captain Ryan Terry was pride. The game did bring out some negatives but also plenty of positives and this gives the team ideas on what needs to be worked on in training over the coming weeks. With the NWML Division 3 being a very tough league this year, the games don’t get any easier as next week Bolton face league leaders Orrell St James at Bolton Rugby Club, 2.30pm KO.
After training at Essa Academy in Lever Edge Lane since November 2013, Bolton Mets now return to Bolton Rugby Club in Avenue Street as of Thursday 8th May. Training will now be from 7.30-9.30pm at the Home of Rugby in Bolton and everyone is welcome no matter their ability or experience. We thoroughly encourage new players to come down and give it a try.
We would sincerely like to thank Essa Academy and Mohammed Musa in particular, for the use of their excellent facilities over the winter months. The partnership that has been form between the club and the school will hopefully be on going for many years to come and goes to show the mutual support that can be achieved by amateur sports clubs and local companies.