After a three week break, due to a bye and Magic Weekend, we were back in action on Saturday as we welcomed Latchford Albion A to Greenhalgh’s Pavilion.
ome chopping and changing pre game disrupted the team’s performance for the opening 10 minutes allowing Latchford to open up a 10 point lead. The first try was finished in the corner by the Centre, before a break through the middle of our defence allowed the nippy Half Back to score under the posts.
A quick word from Head Coach Al Scarbrough helped refocus the players and with almost immediate effect the game started to turn. With the Mets on the attack, a superb angled run by Darren Robinson Jnr was rewarded with a try when Mark Dorning’s pass put him through a gap. This was to be a first try for the club for the 17 year old Second Rower and his onlooking father Darren Robinson Snr couldn’t have been prouder. Hooker Daryl Devlin slotted over the extra two points to narrow the gap to just four.
Midway through the half, both sides seemed to be having trouble keeping hold of the ball which resulted in several scrums and the need for a back to basics approach. Once we had found our feet again, some neat handling saw the ball moved from right to left and ended with Andy Platt crossing the whitewash. Unfortunately, the referee felt the ball had left his grasp and ruled a knock on to Andy’s dismay.
Every time Latchford received the ball they had to work it out from their own try line, and with the relentless defence from Bolton limiting their yards it really helped give us good field position for when we were next on the attack.
The confidence on show from the Mets players was glowing, the ability to put the ball through hands resulted in our next try as Loose Forward Ryan Terrydrew in the opposing Centre to give Full Back Jonathan McMillan room to score, Devlin again converting.
This gave us a 12-10 lead late in the first half, but with a Latchford player picking up a leg injury the referee opted to end the half 5 minutes early. Fortunately, the injury wasn’t as serious as first feared but it did put an end to his afternoon.
The halt in proceedings gave Al a chance to praise his troops and reiterate what was needed for the remainder of the game. A change in the forwards saw Sean Fogarty and Dave Hulme enter the fray, in exchange for debutant Steven Harrison and Harry Dawber, whilst Winger Martyn Mercer replaced Rob Tuppen.
Several well attended training sessions recently have really helped improve our performances, and the skill level on show from each player meant we were able to cause our opponents more trouble than we did in the reverse fixture a couple of months ago.
On the back of some quick play the balls, Mark Dorning took the ball to the line and looked to be giving an inside ball to Ryan Terry, however, a little dummy created a gap for himself which he duly sprinted through to score. An easy conversion for Daryl gave us an eight point lead early in the second half with the score at 18-10.
More was to come from the Mets, having scored his first try earlier in the game Darren Robinson Jnr barged over for his second after a tap penalty close to the line. A very impressed side line cheered the hard working forward as some great strength was needed to bump off three would be tacklers before crossing the line. The successful kick kept the scoreboard ticking over nicely.
Could this get any better for Bolton Mets, of course it could! Some excellent work by debutant Aaron Hunt helped gain us a huge amount of yards up field before the fifth and last tackle was called. Mark Dorning put boot to ball with a neat angled kick to the corner, this was collected by Centre Gavin Hatton who held off a couple of Albion players to touch the ball down. This was his second try in two games and he rightly deserves the praise he has received. Having kicked 4 from 4 so far, Devlin’s fifth effort struck the post and bounced away leaving the score at 28-10 with just over 10 minutes to go.
Now this is where things take a slight turn for the worse, some poor tackling from a scrum allowed Latchford to get themselves back in to the game with a try close to the sticks. The kick reduced the gap to 12 points.
This was followed by an opportunity for Bolton to convert a penalty right in front of the post, however, the players opted to run it and try for a possible 6 points instead of just 2. This backfired a little as moments later Albion went up the other end of the field to score again, the kick sailed through the uprights to set us a tense finale with the scores now 28-22.
The momentum was now with Latchford and they were keen to seize the opportunity to snatch a draw at the very least. A quick play the ball allowed the Hooker to catch the Mets defence on the back foot, and with his sidestepping ability he was able to skip passed several defenders before setting off towards the try line. A last gasp tackle dragged his down just inches short, but with 3 Home players out of the defensive line it looked likely that they would score on the next play. Defying the odds, the Mets players defended their line like their lives depended on it and kept out Latchford for two more plays. The turnover allowed us to get the ball as far away from our line as possible, scoots from Aaron Hunt, Gavin Hatton, Rob Tuppen and Martyn Mercertaking the ball well passed halfway.
With only moments left, Mark Dorning went for a drop goal but what resulted was more of a daisy cutter as it barely got off the ground. Despite the poor effort, it wasn’t going to spoil the day as the referee blew the final whistle to an almighty cheer.
Al Scarbrough was more than happy with the result, and on the back of a big win versus Bury Broncos A it lifted us up another place in the table to seventh. He gave praise to the players on debut, Steven Harrison and Aaron Hunt, and the players who had initially been left out of the 17 before receiving a late call up, Sean Fogarty, Andrian Gribbin and Dave Hulme. This was our first back to back league victory since May 2014, and just goes to show that all the hard work the coaches and players have put in is starting to pay off.
Naming the Opposition Man of the Match, Al firstly congratulated third placed Daryl Devlin and second placed Ryan Terry, before announcing stand in Captain Mark Dorning as the winner. Having missed several games prior to his own wedding, Mark has played a huge part in the last two games and was full deserving of the award. For an all round solid performance, Darren Robinson Jnr was awarded the Top Tackler honours.
Photos from the game have been uploaded by John McGibbon, there are three separate albums to browse and they can be found at the bottom of this article.
After Littleborough requested to reverse the fixture, we continue our run of Home games on Saturday 9th June with the visit of the league leaders to Bolton Rugby Club.