Greenhalgh’s Pavilion hosted the first ever encounter between Bolton Mets and Littleborough on Saturday, the latter being a relatively new team in the NWML.
Things couldn’t have started worse for the Mets, a mistake from the kick off and poor defence from the scrum resulted in Littleborough taking an early lead. They then built on their advantage with a second and a third score to open up a 16-0 lead.
After such a slow start it was time to get ourselves back in the game, strong carries by Prop Forwards Sean Fogarty and Harry Dawber made inroads into Littleborough territory before Half Back Ste Hickey put on the plays to threaten the line.
Despite having only 12 available players, Littleborough were a well drilled unit and had plenty of experience within their ranks. A fourth try was scored by the Hooker to extend their lead, but the tide seemed to be turning as the Mets were soon up the other end of the field.
Speedy carries from the dummy half position by Wingers Carl Henderson and Haydn Broadway helped lead the Mets upfield and set us on the attack. A line break by Hickey saw him brought down just before the line, but Hooker Daryl Devlin was on hand to score on the next play on the back of a scoot play. Daryl converted his own try to narrow the gap ahead of half time.
As we headed towards the break, Littleborough started to put in some tough tackles that were deemed illegal by the referee, this resulted in a sin bin for an Away player and gave the Mets a 2 man advantage for the remainder of the half and early in the second 40 minutes.
Tom Crook entered the field late in the first half and was the opening scorer after the break, Ste Hickey threw a great cut out pass down the right side of the field that saw Tom collect and score in the corner. Devlin coolly slotted over the extra 2 points to bring the game to within 2 scores.
The Away side bounced back with a try of their own down the left touchline, but it was starting to become a real seesaw battle as both teams traded scores. With the Mets 20 metres away from the try line, Loose Forward Josh Bourne charged onto the ball and took three or four players over the line with him as he touched the ball down. A third successful kick by Devlin made the score 26-18 to Littleborough but well within reach now for the Home side.
With the game now too close to call, things started to fall apart as the dreaded injuries came into play. Hamstring issues meant both Paul Leigh and Carl Henderson had to exit the field, this left us a little out of shape down the right side of defence and gave Littleborough an opportunity.
Spotting a weakness, they charged down their left side and managed to score two further tries to regain total control. Another try before the final whistle cemented a 42-18 win for the men from Rochdale, impressive considering they played the game with just 12 men.
Everyone knows that Bolton Mets are a team in transition, we take the positives and negatives from each game and learn lessons when and where we can. One of the major positives was the try line defence that held out Littleborough on several occasions, we just need to replicate this over an 80 minute game and in all areas of the field.
Playing in his first league game of the season, Ste Hickey walked away with the Oppositions Man of the Match award ahead of newly appointed Captain Rick Ackers and Josh Bourne. Earning praise from Head Coach Al Scarbrough after the game saw Harry Dawber picked out as Top Tackler due to his big hits and controlling of the defensive line.