After an 8 week hiatus, SARL’s partner club Bolton Mets took part in a top vs bottom clash in the NWML Division 5 on Saturday as we travelled to league leaders Clock Face Miners A.
Having come close to beating them early in the season, we should have been going into the game high on confidence, however, with injuries and family/work commitments meaning limited resources we had to scrabble around to field a team. With only 8 players available midday on Friday we somehow managed to name 17 players at 2.30pm on Saturday, credit must go to all players for turning out, especially those coming in as debutants.
The game started exactly how we didn’t want it to, a couple of early tries gave Clock Face momentum and they started to rack up the scores. The first two were from close range, before a number of solo efforts opened up a big lead.
Captain Daryl Devlin had a new half back partner for this game, Dylan O’Shea coming in to make his Mets bow, and they at least caused the Home side some trouble when in possession. Playing at Loose Forward for the first time, Tom Bradley was a constant threat with ball in hand, drive after drive certainly helping him make friends with the opposition in the first 40 minutes.
Clock managed to score again close to the break, but it was Bolton who’d have the final say. Some great work down the right flank by Centre Ethan Hill meant a play the ball only 5 metres away from the line. Picking up and going from acting half, Paul Charnock took the ball to the line and was able to spin out of a tackle and touch down despite being under huge pressure. Devlin converted the try to make the half time score 42-6 to Clock Face.
On the back of the late try, the Mets players were up for more and were on hand to open the scoring in the second half. Looking to use the ball, Bolton put it through hands before Devlin played in Hooker James Hall. Also making his debut, Hall proceeded to send the opposing Full Back the wrong way with an electrifying side step and sprint home to score his first for the club. Another 2 points were added by Devlin to reduce the gap further.
We were now on a roll, some indiscipline by the hosts meant they had a player sent to the sin bin, this allowed us to capitalise with another score. Strong carries by Darren Robinson Jnr, Rob Tuppen and Gavin Corfield helped put us on the front foot midway into the opposition half, but what happened next must surely go down in folklore. On the last play of the set, the ball ended up in the hands of utility player Andy Platt, instead of panicking or trying to offload the ball, Platt put in a delightful chip kick that bypassed the defensive line but gave the Full Back everything to do. With several players bearing down on him, the Full Back was unable to collect the loose ball, this meant it was picked up by Ethan Hill who then turned the covering Winger inside out before scoring his fourth try in six matches. As the kick flew over the cross bar, we had now come from 42-0 down to 42-18 in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
After the Miners returned to the full compliment, they started to regain control of the game. A solo try was scored around the hour mark, due to some missed tackles further up the field, but we still showed heart and stuck to the task.
Growing into the game as the minutes ticked away, Dylan O’Shea was looking impressive when in possession. On one foray in the second half, he threw an audacious dummy which then opened up a gap for him to break away, having outpaced a number of players he then offloaded to the supporting James Hall. We didn’t quite manage to get a score on the end of this break but seeing these new players link up was a delight, and hopefully is a sign of things to come in our remaining two games. The other debutants, Chris Leigh and Andrew Mulligan, also showed some good signs and deserve credit for volunteering to help us out when our back where against the wall.
Another try or two for the Home side increased their lead to 66-18 before the end of the game, but having lost the first half 42-6 we were pleased to have only lost the second half 24-12.
As always, the opposition Coach names his Man of the Match after the game, Daryl Devlin and Tom Bradley in 2nd and 3rd place respectively, but it was James Hall who was picked out as the real threat and takes home the honours. Even though they weren’t named in the top three, Dylan O’Shea, Ethan Hill and Gavin Corfield warrant a mention for their fine work in both attack and defence. On top of being named MOM, James also earned the award of Top Tackler, a tenacious little player who has a great future ahead of him.