Bolton Mets went into this weekends game vs Bury Broncos A looking to avenge our two narrow defeats at Philips High School in the past 2 seasons, and with confidence riding high after Friday night’s victory over Higginshaw everything was looking good.
Things couldn’t have started better for the Mets as a break down the left flank by Will Bate saw him interchange several passes with Ste Hickey to beat the Bury defence. The final pass set Hickey away to open the scoring with a swan dive over the line, before a successful conversion by Daryl Devlin made it 6-0.
We quickly doubled our lead when Prop Forward Ryan Terry forced his way towards the line, and despite being held back by three defenders he had enough strength to reach out and touch the ball down. Devlin made it two from two with the boot and increased the lead to 12 points.
Playing only his third game for Bolton Mets, Rory Biggins combined with Connor Orrell down the right to get around the outside of the scrambling Bury defence. Scoring as close to the corner flag as possible meant a difficult conversion for Devlin, this time he pulled it just wide to leave the score at 16-0.
The Home side did have chances in the first half, they managed to score a try with a strong drive from the big forward close to the line, but what was anticipated to be an easy conversion was dragged across the front of the posts to deny them the extra 2 points.
The bench players would play a big part in this game, Tom Banks and JP Hardman came on to refresh the forwards, whilst Martyn Mercer and Callum Smithwere used out wide. With the heat being a real energy sapper, it was important to roll the subs on and off when possible.
As the game crept towards half time, Head Coach Al Scarbrough wanted the players to keep turning the screw in the hope of getting the game secured as early as possible. Another try for Biggins, this time coming from a tap penalty and spread play, gave us a firm foothold in the game and made the team talk that little bit easier.
The side line support from Bury seemed to have a bee in their bonnet about several things in the first half, and that seemed to find its way on to the field in the second. Having already had a player in the sin bin for throwing the ball away, the Broncos were reduced to 12 men after one player took the verbal’s a step too far for the referee’s liking.
Despite being a man down, Bury did score again with a neat run around play, and with the try scored close to the sticks it was improved by the kicker. The score now stood at 20-10 in the Mets favour with a good 30 minutes to go.
After the set back of conceding, Bolton came back into the game with a real Wingers try in the right corner. Having gone close with a couple of earlier plays, Ste Hickey’s cut out pass found Martyn Mercer hugging the touchline with a clear run to the line.
From here on in it was all Bolton Mets, the extra man obviously giving us an advantage but also gaps to run at in the opposing defence. After an impressive first half performance, Tom Banks got his reward by charging over the line from yet another tap penalty. There was no stopping the hard-running forward, the Bury defence can attest to that, and it was great to see him score his first try for the club.
Our tenacious defence, led by Rob Tuppen, Steven Harrison and Aaron Bell, forced the Broncos into several errors in the second half. One such error saw the ball hit the deck after a bad pass from dummy half, and not one to be found wanting Ste Hickey picked up the loose ball and ran in his second try of the afternoon.
If recent history is anything to go by, Will Bate must be having a bad game if he doesn’t get himself on the score sheet, however, today wasn’t one of those day. Being very comfortable with the ball in hand, Bate threw a dummy before showing the defenders a clean pair of heels as he raced to the line to score. As he touched down close to the sticks it allowed Devlin to get back into the groove and slot over his third conversion of the day, having missed the previous five.
A rare foray into the Mets half did see Bury challenge our line for a set or two, but it was a case on none shall pass as we stood firm and held them out with tackle after tackle. Bury’s failure to score a try resulted in a turnover of possession deep inside our own half, a couple of carries from the Backs was followed up by a drive from Captain Rick Ackers. From that drive he burst through the line and sprinted three quarters of the length of the field for the final try of the day, and his fifth of the season. Devlin again slotted over the conversion, this one taking his tally to 8 for the afternoon and making him the overall leading point scorer in NWML Division 5 with only a couple of games to go.
As the final whistle was blown, it signalled that the double over Bury Broncos A was complete. Nine tries and four conversions brought the final score to 44-10 for the Mets.
Since Rugby League switched to summer, I don’t think we’ve had to play as many games in such fierce heat as we have this season. It was quite fortunate that we had a bit of rain on Thursday and Friday evening as this helped soften the ground quite considerably.
Having caused them issues right from the off, Will Bate was rewarded with the Oppositions Man of the Match Award. In the runners up spots were Ryan Terry and Ste Hickey, four tries between all three of them proves they were all a real handful throughout the 80 minutes. Playing at Full Back this week, having already played Half Back, Centre & Wing this season, Paul Charnock was picked out as Top Tackler. The award was due as much for his commanding performance at the back as it was for the physicality of his tackling. Earning a worthy mention was Hooker Aaron Bell, a tough and non-compromising type of defender who never missed a tackle all game.
Two years on from taking charge of his first Mets game, Al Scarbrough returned to Philips High School with only one aim, to come away with the two points. With the help of 20 committed players he achieved that aim and commenting on the victory he had this to say, “It was a great effort from the lads, they played like a team with real confidence in their own ability and I’m very proud of them at this moment in time”. With no league game now scheduled for over a month and a half, Al said, “We go into the break in great shape and I’m really looking forward to our last two fixtures. We have a real chance of making up a place or two in the table and we will be trying our best to get the results that could make that happen”.
The league structure was changed prior to the start of the season, meaning the cup rounds now take place throughout July and early August rather than spread throughout the year. A nine a side tournament takes place on Saturday 11th August, but our final two league games will take place on 1st and 8th September.