A trip to the seaside was the order of the day on Saturday as we travelled to face Blackpool Stanley in the NWML.
For the very first time this season we were only able to field 14 players for the game, and within the 14 was Chairman Stuart Cooke and club volunteer Sam Heyes. If that wasn’t bad enough, we also had Darren Robinson Snr starting the game with a sprained knee and within the opening moments Daryl Devlin picked up a dead leg. We were well and truly up against it now!
A couple of early errors gifted Blackpool the lead before a steady period helped us steady the ship. The ‘well watered’ pitch wasn’t making life any easier either, the muddy patches making it difficult to get a solid footing, let alone get up a head of steam.
The Home side opened up a 24-0 lead before Joe Harte barged his way over for the Mets. The strength shown by Joe to bump off several tacklers and cross the line was awesome to watch, the club stalwart now putting himself in the race for the Top Try Scorer Award at the end of the season. Despite the dead leg, Daryl Devlin slotted over the conversion to narrow the gap ever so slightly.
As the half progressed, the Mets defence held firm down the middle which meant Blackpool had to spread the ball wide to find a gap. The Stanley ball handlers showed great skill to do just that, and with the benefit of some hard running Second Rowers they crossed a couple more times before the break.
Early in the first half Sam Heyes had entered the field in exchange for Stuart Cooke, and despite playing his first competitive game of Rugby League for approximately 20 years he certainly impressed his teammates. He now joins the ever increasing club of Mets players aged over 50, but if that is what he can deliver on a wet and boggy pitch then we’d love to see what he can offer on a dry day.
As was to be expected with a depleted subs bench, our fitness quickly fell away in the second half and this allowed Blackpool to run in a number of tries, particularly their big forward who seemed impossible to tackle. However, we continued to work hard and Props Sean Fogarty and Harry Dawber helped keen the line moving forward each and every play.
With Ryan Terry playing out of position at Hooker we needed to find someone else to take those strong ball carries, that someone was Jason Nuttall. Funnily enough Jason started the game on the Wing but within a matter of minutes he found himself in the heat of the action in centre field. Putting his hand up time after time showed a great work ethic from him and he received quite a bit of praise after the game.
With the scoreboard ticking over, several more tries were scored by Stanley towards the end of the game. When we did manage to get our hands on the ball we troubled the Blackpool defence with some nicely timed inside passes by Sam Abbott. Despite this, we failed to cross the line again in the remaining minutes before the final whistle, the score ending 64-6 to Blackpool Stanley.
As mentioned earlier, Sam Heyes had a cracker of a game and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time to make a crucial tackle. With that being the case it seemed impossible to give the Top Tackler Award to anyone else. When it came to Oppositions Man of the Match, Joe Harte and Daryl Devlin were runners up but it was Centre Stuart MacDonald who was picked out as the biggest threat by the Home team coaches. Some impressive tackling, backed up by some even more impressive ball carries, helped Stuart stand out and quite rightly earn the award.
After the game, Head Coach Al Scarbrough got his players together and offered them his comments. The words were delivered with complete sincerity as he said, “The character within this team is phenomenal. It doesn’t matter who the opposition is or where the game is being played, we always get a team out and always give it a good go. You all deserve respect, and from the comments I’ve seen and heard from other clubs and players you certainly have it”.
The penultimate game of the season sees us cross the border to Wigan on Saturday as we face Aspull New Springs, before our final game of the season at Home to Halton Farnworth Hornets A on Saturday 23rd September. This game will be followed by our Annual End of Season Awards.