What better way to spend the Easter weekend than watching a thrilling derby game versus local rivals Bury Broncos on a sunny day at Bolton Rugby Club.
Bolton fielded a strong team and knew they had the ability to beat their neighbours, but also knew it would be a tough encounter. This was soon proven when Bury took an early lead after a defensive mix up from a high kick. The on rushing Bury Winger took advantage of the error and crossed the line to score the opening try, with the kick making it 6-0.
A tight period followed with both teams trying to find gaps in the opposing defensive line. With no gaps to be found, Bury extended their lead with a try out wide. Some slick handling and angled running allowed the Broncos to gain an overlap and the Winger found himself with a clean run to the line. Another successful conversion took the score to 12-0.
Midway through the first half, the Mets started to click in attack and Hooker Will Bate was allowed to dive over and score a four pointer after Andy Bowling and Ken Sackfield had made the hard yards up field. This was quickly followed by a full length of the field try by the oldest player on the pitch, 44 year old Joe Harte. Busting through a tackle, Harte sprinted towards the try line before rounding the Full Back and finishing up under the sticks. This gave Ken Sackfield an easy conversion and narrowed the gap to just 2 points.
Looking to regain a commanding lead, the Away team scored their third try of the first half with yet another wide shot. The kick was slotted over and took the score to 18-10. Bolton needed to push on to stop them running away with it.
After what has been a tough start to the season with results and a shocking run of injuries, Bolton wanted to show what they are actually capable of and what better way to do it than against the joint league leaders. Finding themselves camped on the Bury line; Will Bate doubled his tally with another close range try. With Sackfield off the field, Pierce Sherrington took over the kicking duties and easily converted the opportunity. Moments later and with only a minute or so remaining in the half, an outstanding break by Captain Ryan Terry saw him sprint 50 metres before offloading to the supporting Matt Gladwin. Sherrington was again successful with the conversion to give the Mets a 22-18 lead at the break and this meant Bolton had the lead for the first time in the game.
The second half was to see the score change hands on several occasions and made for an exciting spectacle for the large crowd of supporters. As in the first half, Bury scored first to tie the scores before the conversion gave them a 2 point advantage.
Man of the Match for the Mets was Will Bate, making his first appearance of the season, after he scored this third try of the game and complete the hatrick with a strong run. On the way to the try line it looked as though he was going to be tackled just short, but switching the ball from one hand to the other he stretched out to plant it down on the line.
Trading blows, it was now time for Bury to score again. They seemed to have the edge on Bolton out wide and they continued to have joy in the corners. Each try heightened the excitement and made for a nail biting encounter. The try and conversion gave Bury a 30-28 lead with 10 minutes left on the referees watch.
Returning from injury to play his first game of the season, Mets stalwart Neil Walsh barged his way over after good handling from Danny Ryder and Matt Gladwin. Becoming the third kicker of the day for the Mets, Mark Dorning converted the try with a sweetly struck kick. With only 5 minutes left to go, Bolton led 34-30 and looked to be in with a chance of beating Bury for the first time since 2010.
Unfortunately it wasn’t to be as one final twist in the tale saw Bury spread the ball wide again to see the Centre dive over in the corner to tie the scores. If the kicker could retain his 100% record, Bury would win the game. Luckily for Bolton he sliced the kick to leave the score tied at 34-34.
As the final whistle was blown, a thoroughly entertaining game came to an end. Both teams will feel they could have won the game but a draw seemed a fair result. From a Bolton perspective, the games in recent seasons have been far to one sided. Thanks to Bolton’s development on and off the field both fixtures this season have been a joy to watch and hopefully it won’t be to long before a victory for the Mets.
Will Bate was rightly awarded Man of the Match and a £10 off Domino’s voucher, with Joe Harte and Danny Ryder runners up. Ken Sackfield was picked out as the Top Tackler. The whole squad can be very proud of the performance and with a few players starting to return from injury the team can only push on and get stronger. The added bonus of the returning players means that we may be able to arrange a few friendlies for the A team. We are always looking for new players to join the club, no matter their ability or experience. Please feel free to get in touch via the website (www.pitchero.com/clubs/boltonmets/), facebook (Bolton Mets) or twitter (@BoltonMetsRLFC).
The match ball sponsor for the game was Bates Bros. Fruit & Veg of Bolton Market. For top quality fruit & veg, get yourselves down to Bolton Market and speak to John Bates. The help and support of all our sponsors is greatly appreciated.
You can find out more about Bolton Mets here.