It was time to do battle with our neighbours and rivals Bury Broncos A on Saturday at a sun soaked Greenhalgh’s Pavilion.
After suffering a 2 point defeat at Philips High School, for the second year running, earlier in the season, we were hell bent on getting a result here to make amends. The start from the lads couldn’t have been better when a solid 15 minute spell of constant pressure on the Bury line finally saw us cross the whitewash. Working down the left flank, Captain Ste Hickey took the ball to the line before releasing Centre Paul Leigh who stepped around his opposite number to touch down.
The next try followed on the back of some excellent forward play by Neil Walsh and Andrew Bowling after a tackle bust and break up field. Some quick handling by the Mets saw the ball reach Hooker Daryl Devlin in centre field before he attacked the left side Bury defence. As he committed the left Centre he passed on to Winger Martin Galland who dived over in the corner to score. A tough side line kick was converted by Mark Dorning to extend our lead to 10 points.
Bury had their chances in the game and soon had their first points on the board on the half hour mark. After some solid Mets defence kept them out on the right, a huge cut out pass allowed them to get the overlap and cross the line on the left hand side to narrow the gap to just 6 points.
With half time approaching it looked as though we were going to extend our lead, a break up field by Dorning saw him offload to the supporting Hickey who looked certain to score, however, the never say die attitude of a Bury defender saw him knock the ball from Ste’s grasp over the line and stop us taking a potential 16-4 lead at the break.
Praise from Head Coach Al Scarbrough at half time was a must, the first half performance was by far and away our best for quite some time. The much maligned Mets defence was outstanding and deserving of the lead, tackle after tackle rebuffing the Bury attack. The plan for the second 40 was ‘the same again’, could we finally break our duck?
Disappointingly, the first 10 minutes of the half couldn’t have gone worse. With a couple of penalties gifting Bury field position, their giant of a Prop Forward barged his way over, not once but twice, to give the Broncos the lead at 14-10.
The shocking start to the half gave us a kick up the backside and we were soon back level on the hour after a try for the returning Tom Everard. A fifth and last tackle punt from Ste Hickey was allowed to bounce by the Bury defence and fortunately for us it was pouched by the onrushing Everard who dived over to score.
We have been susceptible to conceding soft tries close to our own line this season and today was to be no different. A simple charge from 10 yards out saw Bury cross again, even more annoying after the hard defence that preceded it, to regain the lead at 18-14.
The see saw battle continued when another returning player, Andrew Bowling, dived over from dummy half 8 minutes from time to tie the scores, the conversion by Dorning putting us back in front for the first time since half time.
Unfortunately, the last five minutes of the game won’t be ones to remember for the Mets as Bury crashed over again to snatch the lead. This was quickly followed by a third try for the Prop Forward, and with both tries converted the score now stood at 30-20 to the Away side. Only moments after the restart the final whistle was blown to cement the defeat.
As you can probably imagine, the result was gut wrenching for the Mets players and staff. To lose the game to our rivals from a winning position at half time for the second time this year was hard to take, however, there are so many positives that we can take from the game it almost outweighs the feeling.
Ryan Terry, who left the field with a broken nose, earned the Opposition Man of the Match award, closely followed by runners up Mark Dorning and Ste Hickey. Loose Forward Josh Bourne walked away with the Top Tackler equivalent after some tenacious defence throughout the 80 minutes.
The defeat leaves us routed to the bottom of the NWML Division Five, however, with teams above us conceding games left, right and centre we at least can take pride in the fact that we’re continuing to fulfil our league obligations rather than opted for a 24-0 defeat.
We don’t have a game next week, instead we host our long running social event, the Bowling Day, at the Kings Head, 52-54 Junction Rd, Deane. All past, present & future Mets players, club members and supporters are welcome to attend, we’ll be meeting from 11am with a great day planned out.
Thanks to Bryan Fowler for the excellent photos of the game.