Having defeated Little Hulton Reds only a month or so ago, Bolton Mets hoped to complete the double over their local rivals at Bolton Rugby Club on Saturday. A tough 80 minutes stood ahead of them but they were up to the task.
Unfortunately, Little Hulton made the brighter start with 2 tries and 1 conversion giving them a 10-0 lead. The first a try from the big Second Rower and the second from the allusive Hooker.
The Mets have recruited several new players over recent weeks and one of the stand out performers has been Centre Ben Hill. He showed the crowd why he is held in such high regard with the first Mets try of the afternoon, after a tackle bust and side step he found his way to the line. The returning Pierce Sherrington added the extra 2 points.
The Reds added their third score of the half when the Prop Forward ran out wide and produced an offload allowing the Centre to dive over in the corner. Another missed conversion left them 14-6 up.
Bolton came back at them with consecutive tries of their own, Ryan Terry barging over for the first and Ben Hill doubling his tally for the second. Excellent work by brothers Mark and Ste Dorning in the halves helped make the gaps for the two tries. Sherrington converted 1 of the 2 kicks to give the Mets a 16-14 lead on the half hour mark.
One of the issues the Mets have faced this season is keeping the door firmly shirt when nearing the break and as such Little Hulton were able to sneak in for two more tries before the half time whistle. This meant the score was now 24-16 to the Reds at the turnaround.
After a quick chat about both attack and defence, Bolton were keen to get back on the field and it was to be a great start to the second half. Hooker Will Bate made the best possible kick return by busting a tackle and sprinting clear to score under the sticks, allowing Sherrington an easy 2 points.
Despite impressive defensive displays from John Stryker and Dale Forrest, neither player missing a tackle in the entire 80 minutes, it was some lax tackling around them that allowed the Reds to regain control and extend their lead. Another try from the hard running Second Rower was followed up by a try by the Prop Forward. Two successful kicks gave the travelling side a 36-22 advantage.
The Mets attack hasn’t been quite as fluid as we’d of liked so far this season, mainly due to the forced changes in key positions that have occurred on a weekly basis, but with good work by Bate and the Dornings it seemed to be clicking on this particular day. Captain Chris Piercy, playing only his second game since returning from a fractured knee, showed great strength and pace to score a length of the field try. Fending off several would be tacklers, he made a break and sprinted away towards the line. Holding off the chasing Full Back he managed to make it to the line just in the nick of time to score an impressive 4 pointer.
A 20 minute period of tight defence followed with both teams seemingly tiring in the afternoon sun. With time running out, Bolton took the bull by the horns and Ben Hill was to cross for his third try of the game and complete his second hatrick of recent weeks. Hill certainly has taken to Rugby League very well and has used his Union experience to great effect. The trusty boot of Pierce Sherrington slotted over the conversion to bring the scores to within 4 points.
As we entered the final five minutes, the game was in the balance and Bolton needed to return the ball with vigour. Unfortunately, an immediate error from the kick off gave the Reds much needed field position and inevitably a match winning try. Camped on the line, the opposing Hooker spotted a gap and dived over. This was to be the killer blow and sealed the win for the Reds by a score of 42-32.
This was to be a gutting end to a great game but every Mets player could leave the field with their head held high. Enjoyment has been lacking of late for the Bolton players, but despite the defeat Captain Chris Piercy knew his troops had enjoyed the encounter. After the game he has this to say, “It was a tough game but I think we put on some great attacking rugby throughout the 80 minutes. Yes we have things to work on but that is what we train for on a Thursday. It’s great to be back after my injury lay off and to score a try like I did has pleased me no end”.
Hooker Will Bate was picked out as Domino’s Pizza Man of the Match by the opposition with Dale Forrest and Chris Piercy as runners up, but hatrick hero Ben Hill thoroughly deserves a mention. After a solid defensive showing, the Top Tackler Award was to be fought over by John Stryker andDale Forrest, with Prop Forward Forrest just nicking it.
The NWML have scheduled a 2 week break to allow teams to catch up on postponed fixtures from earlier in the season. As such Bolton have arranged two ‘A’ team fixtures, firstly Away to Garswood Stags on 19th July and Away to Chester Gladiators ‘A’ on 26th July. Any players wanting to give Rugby League a try without the pressure of a competitive fixture are encouraged to get in touch and make themselves available for selection. If you feel Rugby League is the sport for you, you can continue to train with the team and potential make the move into the First Team.