After two fiery encounters in 2016, we weren’t expecting anything less when we visited Philips High School on Saturday.
The heat was immense before KO, and the emotions were heightened when a minute’s applause was held for former Broncos player Chris Seymour. The Home side opened the scoring 5 minutes in when a kick to the corner wasn’t dealt with and the onrushing Winger touched down the loose ball. A side line conversion sailed between the posts to make the score 6-0.
A tight period followed as Ste Hickey and Mark Dorning tried to march their forwards down the slope but the Bury defence stood firm. Props Jason Nuttall and Rick Ackers took the ball to the line and with some quick play the balls allowed Hooker Calem Thompson to scramble over from dummy half. A sliced conversion from Dorning left us 2 points behind.
After success with their first kick Bury tested the Mets backs again. This time the bouncing ball fell to the Centre and he dived over the line. They increased the lead further when a missed tackle in the middle of the field allowed the Broncos player to sprint away and score. Two successful conversions increased the lead to 18-4.
On the back of some good work by Centres Paul Leigh and debutant Tom Richardson we soon found ourselves in the Bury half, a strong carry by Andy Platt helped set the platform for Hickey to pass the ball to the charging Ryan Terry whose angled run sliced through the defence. We narrowed the gap further when Loose Forward Josh Bourne barged his way over. The big fella is certainly impressing with his performances since joining the club. With both tries converted by Dorning the score was 18-16 to the Home side at the turnaround.
Head Coach Al Scarbrough made several changes at the break, mainly due to the energy sapping heat, so it was a chance for Andrian Gribbin, Rob Tuppen and second debutant Joe Fraser Taylor to enter the fray. They drove the ball up the hill to set up the next play which saw Hickey waltz through the defence leaving would be tacklers in their wake. A third successful conversion by Dorning gave Bolton the lead for the first time in the game, the score was now 22-18.
After a 10 minute spell of the Mets being in front, Bury regained the lead on the back of a spread play. The slick passing gave them an overlap and the managed to score in the corner to tie the scores, the kick gave them back a 2 point advantage.
On the hour mark Josh Bourne crossed the line for the second time in the game, after a sweet pass from Dorning put him through a gap, handing off two tacklers before touching down. In my opinion what followed next was the try of the game, Bourne busted through the line before offloading to the supporting Ryan Terry. He then avoided several defenders before passing on to Hickey, Hickey gave Dorning the ball and he put petal to the metal and sprinted to the line. Sidestepping his way through Dorning placed the ball down over the line before slotting over the extra 2 points to give the Mets a 32-24 lead.
The game was a real replica of the previous outing from last year and the tries weren’t going to stop just yet, unfortunately for us it was Bury doing the scoring. Several penalties helped the Broncos work down field and from the second play they were able to barge their way over. As the kicked went over the score was now 32-30 to the Mets with 10 minutes to go.
Far too often during the game we somehow found ourselves unprepared for the last tackle, we were caught in possession on a couple of occasions and put in some rushed kicks on other. The best of these was when the ball ended up in the hands of Second Rower Andy Platt and with the side line screaming for him to get rid of the ball he put in an upfield kick, not to stop there he chased down his own kick and tackled the Full Back before he could make too much of an inroad.
With minutes left on the clock we were hanging on for the victory, however, the Home side had other ideas and another spread play saw them score in the corner. The kick was missed but they now had yet another 2 point lead.
As it happened, this was to be the final score of the game and the same 2 point defeat that we suffered there last year was to repeat itself. The Mets were gutted at losing such a tight game and couldn’t help but feel we let the game slip through our fingers.
Leading by example, Captain Ste Hickey took the Oppositions Man of the Match Award with Josh Bourne and Ryan Terry runners up. On the back of his best performance in a Mets shirt, Andy Platt was picked out as Top Tackler.
Despite being disappointed with the result, we could take a lot out of the game. Several players upped their games, we put on some good attacking plays and we had a solid defence for long periods of the game. What we need to do next is to work on the negatives, such as the missed tackles and dropped balls, and the place we will do this is at training. If anyone wants to join the club then please feel free to come down to training on Wednesday evenings, from 7pm until 9pm, at Greenhalgh’s Pavilion, Bolton Rugby Club, Avenue Street, BL1 3AW.
We now have a break for a couple of weeks for various reasons, our next game will be at Home to Leyland Warriors A on Saturday 29th April.