Our penultimate game in NWML Division 5 saw us host Higginshaw of Oldham on Saturday, this also being our final Home game at Greenhalgh’s Pavilion of the league season.
Higginshaw put us to the sword earlier in the season and are now challenging for the promotion spots, Bolton on the other hand had to put out a scratch side due to injuries, holidays and players being unavailable for other reasons. We knew it was going to be a tough 80 minutes, but for the opening 10 we held our own with some smart game management by Scrum Half Daryl Devlin.
The Away side had strength across the park, some hard and fast running really showed why they are challenging at the top end of the table. A couple of tries were scored in the left corner, despite calls from the Mets players of the Winger being in touch, before a barge over from a tap penalty. A fourth try, plus 3 conversions, opening up a large lead for Higginshaw at 22-0.
Due to the lack on numbers we had to play with only one Half Back, and even though Tom Bradley was wearing the number 6 shirt he was being used as an extra forward. Tom carried on where he left off last week, his solid running causing havoc with the opposition, but he managed to go one step further this week and cross the whitewash. With ball in hand, he took the ball to the line before evading tackles from at least 4 players before touching down. The ever reliable Devlin added the extra 2 points to narrow the gap ever so slightly.
Two final tries for Higginshaw were scored before the break, a 34-6 lead now looked insurmountable, and with a couple of injuries restricting the options from our interchange bench it wasn’t going to be an enjoyable second half.
As expected, the side from Oldham weren’t going to ease up in the second half, their players knew they had the edge over the Mets and wanted to rack up a big score. Some indiscipline by Bolton gifted them possession and field position, but we also felt hard done to by the referee with several forward passes, knock ons and offside decisions going unnoticed. This raised the frustration levels amongst the players and led to a 10 minute spell in the bin for Winger Mark Riley, and a talking to for Captain Rick Ackers.
It was all one sided in the second period, eight unanswered tries from Higginshaw took their lead to 76-6 by the final whistle. There weren’t many highlights from a Bolton perspective, we barely managed to get our hands on the ball other than kicking off every few minutes, but when we did, some nice work by Callum Smith, Craig Millington and Adam Millington helped us make good yards forward. We were well beaten by the better team, but we need to regroup and look to make amends in our final game of the season.
Playing only his seventh game of 2019, Rick Ackers was awarded Man of the Match by the opposition, Daryl Devlin and Hooker Adam Millington coming in 2nd and 3rd place respectively. As well as being the only try scorer, Tom Bradley was picked out as Top Tackler and was thoroughly deserving of the award.
Bolton Mets end the season next weekend when we travel to Wigan to face Spring View A, in what could be the game that decides who finishes bottom of NWML Division 5. The game has a 3.30pm KO at Spring View Community Sports Club, Hatfield Close, Spring View, Wigan, WN3 4PH.