Having fought out a tight cup game versus each other only a month or so ago, it was a case of déjà vu for Bolton Mets and Burtonwood Bridge on a wet day in Warrington.
It was the Home team who took an early lead with a try in the corner, but it wasn’t long before Bolton were back on level terms with Second Rower Simon Frost, making his first appearance of the season, barging his way over from a tap penalty. Neither try was converted to leave the score at 4 all.
With the rain teaming down it was difficult for both teams to keep hold of the ball. This was to be a repeat of the cup tie only a month or so earlier which finished 8-6 and has seen Burtonwood progress to the later stages of the competition.
As the half continued, the Bridge started to make inroads with regularity thanks to solid drives and offloads and they soon crossed the line again in the corner to regain the lead. This was quickly followed by another after what can only be described as poor Mets defence. Only one of the two kicks were successful so Burtonwood now had a 14-4 lead going into the half time break.
At the turnaround Bolton needed a kick up the backside otherwise the game would run away from them. An immediate response was to please the drenched Mets supporters as Prop Forward Ken Sackfield barged his way over and placed the ball down. Sackfield also stepped up to slot over the conversion to cut the Bridge lead to just 4 points.
Possession continued to change hands as both sides struggled to complete their sets. It would be the team who showed the most composure who would could away victors. Will Bate took the game by the scruff of the neck and an up field break saw him being pulled down just before the line but he was able to offload to the supporting Sackfield he dived over for his second try of the day. As with his first, he slotted over the extra 2 points to give Bolton the lead for the first time in the game just before the hour mark.
Debutants Ollie Ware and Stephen Taylor were working hard and slotted into the system well. It was a move that started on the left after link up play between Ware and Paul Ashton before the ball was spread to the right for the hard running Frost to not only beat several defenders out wide but to put in a cheeky side step that saw him waltz past the Full Back and towards the line for his second try of the day. With Sackfield off the field, it was Ashton who kicked the conversion. Bolton now had a 22-14, after trailing 14-4, and they needed to hold onto it until the final whistle.
Despite having the lead and needing to see the game out, Bolton didn’t play clever for the final few minutes and this led to another Burtonwood try. The kicker rushed the conversion and luckily for the Mets he missed. With the score now 22-18 and with only minutes left on the clock, it was up the jumper time for Bolton.
Will Bate and Danny Ryder called for their troops to take the ball in nice and tight and soon enough they heard the final whistle. A big sigh of relief came from both the pitch and the sidelines after what hasn’t been the best start to the season for the Mets. Ryan Terry was pleased with the win and said, “It was a big, physical game in very difficult conditions. The guys gave 100% effort to come from behind and to close out a win”. He continued to praise his team, “Discipline gave us more time to set up the plays, which allowed us to score the tries. Even in these tricky conditions we played some attractive rugby. I am very proud to have been captain to these players today”.
The win has helped move the Mets up a couple of places in the table and sets up a fierce local derby vs. Little Hulton next Saturday. Another win would mean Bolton leap frog the Reds in the table. Head Coach Marc Simon said “I am very proud of today’s performance and glad to see the new lads slotting in well. The win will help us push forward now and continue to make big strides up the league ladder”.
Will Bate came out on top in the Man of the Match stakes, with Andy Bowling and double try scorerSimon Frost runners up. Ryan Terry was named Top Tackler for continually forcing the error and making the Bridge players knock the ball on.
Bolton Mets are back in action next Saturday with a trip to face Little Hulton Reds in Peel Park, 2.30pm KO.