After last weekend’s victory against Burtonwood Bridge, Bolton Mets went into the game vs. Little Hulton Reds high on confidence.
With over 25 players available for selection, Head Coach Marc Simon had a few decisions to make but he obviously knows a thing or two as it seemed he’d made the right choices when Bolton took an early lead. Local lad Ken Sackfield opened the scoring within the first couple of minutes with a defence scattering run. However he couldn’t add to the lead after a wayward kick at goal.
Little Hulton have had the edge over Bolton every time they have played and they soon showed why with a try of their own. A successful conversion gave them a 6-4 lead.
In what turned out to be a warm & sunny day, Bolton had to conserve their energy when possible, and with every player doing their share of the work it meant the chances of success were high. Recent recruit Ste Taylor, playing at Stand Off, put up a high bomb on the last tackle that allowed debutant Winger Mike Richardson to claim the ball with great skill and finish up under the sticks for a try. Sackfield stepped up to convert from bang in front and put the Mets back in to the lead 10-6.
Soon after his first, Richardson was in again when he was released by Centre Will Bate. Using his deceptive pace the big Winger double his tally and allowed Mark Dorning an easy conversion meaning he continued his 100% kicking record for the season. Bolton now led 16-6 as we approached the turn around.
Not wanting to let the game get away from them, the Reds started to chance their arm and spread the ball wide. Some slick handling ended with the Winger diving over on the corner right on the stroke of half time despite a valiant effort from Dorning and Ryan Terry to keep him out. With the kick unsuccessful, Bolton still led 16-10.
At half time, Marc Simon got the chance to speak to his players and asked for composure and reaffirmed the game plan. An almost immediate response came when Will Bate went on a typically weaving run to outpace the opposition Full Back and score. Back on the field, Sackfield slotted over the extra 2 points.
A period of high intensity followed with both teams knowing a big effort would be needed to win the game, Little Hulton to get themselves back into the game and Bolton to keep the lead and register their first ever win over the Reds of Salford. A somewhat harsh Sin Bin for Mark Dorning within this period meant the Home team could take advantage of having an extra body on the field and with an overlap out wide the opposing Winger sprinted to the line. An impressive touchline conversion from Little Hulton brought them back to within 6 points.
Both teams had their leaders on the field in both attack and defence with solid drives forward and bone crunching tackles bringing sounds of enjoyment from the sidelines. The exchanging of tries continued when Ryan Terry barged over. Looking as though the defenders had wrapped him up, he defied expectations with an out stretched arm to plant the ball down on the line. This all came on the back of hard work by Andy Bowling, Dale Forrest and Ste Lowe making the yards up field.
Another player making his bow for Bolton Mets was Ben Hill, playing at Full Back, and he should be a great prospect with a few more games under his belt. With a number of Bolton RUFC players making the switch over to League for the summer, it’s great to see both codes of Rugby thriving in the town.
Entering the final 10 minutes, despite having the lead Bolton didn’t play smart and continued to hand over possession to the Reds. They were to be punished after one too many errors when the Full Back jinked his way through the flailing Mets defence to score. A quick conversion meant the Mets lead was cut to just 4 points and set up an exciting final 5 minutes.
Thankfully it was Bolton who were to have the final say with an eye catching try of their own. Having marshalled their players throughout the game, Taylor and Dorning combined in spreading the ball wide which saw Paul Leigh put through a gap before crossing the line for the 6th Mets try of the day.Mark Dorning was unable to convert the try putting an end to his 100% kicking record for the season. However, the try itself was enough to secure victory for the travelling Mets side and their first vs. Little Hulton with a final score of 30-22.
Coach Simon had this to say after registering back to back wins over the last 8 days, “It was an excellent effort from the lads and we were able to build on last week’s performance. Defence was the key difference with our team effort nullifying some strong running from the Reds”. He singled out 2 try debutant Mike Richardson for extra praise, along with half back pairing of Taylor and Dorning. His comments were echoed by Captain Ryan Terry who also added, “We are beginning to play to our full potential and put on some entertaining rugby. Having players return from injury and the injury list not gaining any new casualties is a real bonus”. Terry is confident about the second half of the season and said, “We need a big push now on the back of the two victories to make up some lost ground from the early weeks of the season. It was a great squad win and even though there were approximately 10 players on the sidelines not selected, it was great to have their support”.
Despite there not being a Man of the Match Domino’s voucher awarded for Away games, Will Batedid enough to earn the honour with Props Ken Sackfield and Andy Bowling runners up. Mark Dorning not renowned for his hard hitting tackling pulled off some excellent hits to be picked out as Top Tackler.
After playing 8 out of the opening 10 games Away from Home has been tough, but on the flip side of that it means a run of 9 out of the remaining 12 games will be at Bolton Rugby Club. This will start with a run of 5 consecutive Home fixtures, the first of which will be an entertaining battle vs. local rivals Westhoughton Lions on Saturday 7th June, 2.30pm KO. Please turn out in force to cheer us on. Depending on numbers, there may be the potential of an ‘A’ team fixture prior to the derby.