After a six week break we returned to action at Greenhalgh’s Pavilion with our opposition for the day being Garswood Stags.
The Away side started the brighter of the two teams as they scored early on, a little show and go opened a gap for the Second Rower to charge through and score. A second try followed when a right to left spread play ended with the Winger diving over in the corner. With neither conversion successful the Stags had an 8-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Bolton tried to work their way back into the game but some poor judgement and bad decision making gifted possession back to Garswood. As they weren’t feeling in a charitable mood our opponents took advantage with two more tries, the second of which saw a hard-running forward charge on to a delightful offload in centre field. Both kicks were successful this time around to make the score 20-0 to the Stags.
As we headed for half time two of the more senior Mets players combined to score what can only be described as an awesome try, even the Stags side line supporters clapped in appreciation. It all started when Mark Dorning’s short pass put Colin Crompton through a gap, after a 20 metre break he returned the ball to his skipper before Mark offloaded to the supporting Hooker Daryl Devlin. Putting the ball down under the crossbar allowed for an easy conversion and helped us to narrow the gap to just 14 points at the turnaround.
Head Coach Al Scarbrough was far from happy with the first half performance and made sure all the players knew it during the interval. Having sent on Jason Nuttall, Andrian Gribbin and Colin Crompton during the first 40 minutes he reverted to his starting thirteen for the second half. That meant a return to the field for Props Harry Dawber and Sean Fogarty as well as Second Rower Ken Sackfield.
Despite the half time motivation Bolton let the Stags increase their lead early in the second half. Some good defensive work early in the half was let down by a few missed tackles which in turn allowed the Away side to charge up field. The Stags were able to spread the ball from one side of the field to the other and find the gaps that would lead to two further tries.
A third try for Garswood in the second half was slightly on the lucky side, a kick through ricocheted into the path of their Centre who picked up the ball and sprinted his way to the line. With two out of the three tries converted it now meant the score stood at 36-6 to Garswood.
Around the hour mark things started to click for the Mets, the ball seemed to stick a lot better than previously and we were able to cause the opposition some problems. Our second try was similarly fortuitous as an earlier Stags try, a kick from Burns wasn’t dealt with by the Winger which allowed Josh Bourne to capitalise. Once in possession he went for the line and with three defenders unable to stop him he touched the ball down over the line.
After receiving the kick off, strong ball carries by Andy Platt, Harry Dawber and Derek Keogh quickly had us beyond the half way line and setting up for another attack. A sharp pass from dummy half by Daryl Devlin set Ryan Terry on his way, with strength, footwork and determination earning him a try close to the sticks. The gap was being narrowed slowly but surely as it was now 36-14.
The Mets now had a taste for it and were soon over again, an attack down the right hand side saw Winger Rob Tuppen go close before his round the back pass put the ball in field. The loose ball was quickly picked up by Terry who immediately attacked the line and found a gap to dive over and score. As Dorning slotted over the conversion with the last kick of the game the final score was 36-20 to Garswood. Even though it was another defeat the performance by the team was a vast improvement on our last outing, plus it gives us several positives to build on as we come to the business end of the season.
After two years away, Ken Sackfield returned to Bolton Mets and immediately capped off his first game with an Oppositions Man of the Match Award. He was closely followed by Ryan Terry and Colin Crompton, a Mets Old Boy who was making his first competitive appearance for the club in 10 years. Full Back Sam Abbott earned the Top Tackler Award on only his second outing of the season, mainly because he stopped several certain tries with last ditch tackles on his own try line.
Next up for Bolton Mets is a Home midweek fixture vs Wigan Spring View, the game has a 7pm KO on Wednesday 23rd August.