A strong Mets team meant confidence was high going in to the game, most players playing in their preferred positions rather than just filling a vacant space. With a well attended training session on Thursday laying the platform, it was full steam ahead as the whistle blew.
A steady start helped settle us in to the game and it wasn’t long before we opened the scoring. An angled run by Full Back Gareth Hession broke through the Bury defence before he passed on to the supporting Ste Hickey close to the line. The conversion by Daryl Devlin looked to be drifting over, however, it faded away at the last minute and hit the post.
Captain Rick Ackers was helping control the Mets defensive line, communication being one of his many strong points, and this was the key to minimising the number of yards Bury could make when in possession. Strong tackles by Ryan Terry, Mark Dorning and Tom Crook knocked the Bury players backwards at every opportunity, which in turn gave us good field position when starting our next attacking set.
Making his first appearance of season, Neil Walsh took the ball to the line and with a show and go left the would-be tacklers for dead. After breezing past the Full Back he touched down under the sticks giving Devlin an easy conversion, making the score 10-0.
As the half progressed, Bury managed to get a roll on up the field on the back of several Mets penalties. This allowed the Broncos a last gasp chance to open their account on the stroke of half time, a spread play from left to right saw the Winger touch down in the corner despite being under severe pressure. The conversion was missed, leaving the score at 10-4 at the turnaround.
Head Coach Al Scarbough had made several changes throughout the first half but opted to revert to the starting 13 for the second half. Good spells by Andrew Bowling, Josh Bourne and Harry Dawber helped keep the Forwards fresh, whilst Haydn Broadway interchanged with Paul Leigh in the Backs.
The second period saw Bolton take control of the game right from the off, a quick tap by Hession caught the defence unawares and as he sprinted upfield he set up Hickey for his second. Another conversion from Devlin increased the lead further.
A quick fire double followed as Centre Paul Leigh was next across the whitewash, Hooker Adam Ryan supplying the pass to put him through the gap. Then Prop Tom Crook drove the ball forward and just continued bumping players off left, right and centre. After bumping off the fourth defender he pinned his ears back and sprinted away to the line. Both tries were converted by Devlin, taking the score to 28-4.
A slight blip in defence by the Home side allowed Bury to cross again, a strong carry and crash over close to the sticks gifted them an easy 6 points to reduce the lead to 18.
Even though Bolton is a non-traditional Rugby League town, we still manage to attract players with regularity. Recent recruit Gavin Hatton was making his Mets debut on the right Wing, and due to some quick feet and strong carries he was causing the opposition some real issues. A try mid way through the second half helped make it a great first game for him, Adam Ryan again the provider before Devlin slotted over the extra 2 points.
Playing only his second game of the season, and his first real spell of Rugby League after several years away from the game, Adam Ryan had already set up two tries but now wanted to get in on the scoring himself. Back to back tries followed, snappy runs from dummy half giving the Bury defence no chance of catching him as he headed to the line. Both tries were improved upon by Devlin, taking the Mets out of reach at 46-10.
Having played for club’s junior set up many years ago, it is great to see Ste Hickey still wearing the Mets shirt and enjoying his rugby. Jumping in at dummy half, and with the try line begging, Hickey channelled his inner Neil Walsh and dived over to complete his hattrick. Those 3 tries recouping for the 12 points deducted from his tally since the withdrawal of North West Tigers.
Bury kept battling and managed to score a third try, a kick through caused confusion and allowed the on-rushing player the chance to score. The kick was narrowly wide, but as it was only a consolation try it didn’t matter too much in the larger scheme of things.
A strong bench, and a large lead, meant Al Scarbrough could make changes based on fitness rather than tactics. Andrew Bowling, Rob Tuppen and Darren Robinson Jnr were on hand when needed and put in solid shifts.
The current score of 52-14 was already enough to impress for the side line supporters, but we were far from finished. Having worked hard in the second half, Josh Bourne was about to be replaced but wanted to put in one last effort. Charging on to the ball he attracted the attention of four defenders, despite the numbers they were unable to stop him and he continued to make yards after the initial contact. With no held call coming from the referee he slipped out of the tackle and touched the ball down over the line.
With the game entering the final minute there was time for just one more try. Adam Ryan, looking for his hattrick try, was blocked by the Bury defence but he still had the awareness to flick the ball inside to Prop Forward Harry Dawber who ran over his opposite number to score his first try for the club. Everyone was delighted to see the young forward cross the line, and I’m sure his on looking parents were filled with pride as he regained his feet and punched the air. Having missed the very first conversion of the day, Devlin converted every one of the following 10 kicks to take his personal tally to 20 points for the afternoon.
With the game now over, the final score ended up Bolton Mets 64-14 Bury Broncos A. This was our first Home league win since 20th August 2016, funnily enough also against Bury, and the first time we have scored 60 points since 31st August 2013 when we beat Mancunians 60-22.
Having scored a hattrick it was hard to look past Ste Hickey for Man of the Match, with Gareth Hession appearing in the 1, 2, 3 for the second time in two games, and Ryan Terry in third. Worthy mentions must go to the returning Adam Ryan, on the back of 2 tries and 3 assists, and the scoring debutant Gavin Hatton. Tom Crook scored a great try at one end of the field, but it was his defensive work that helped him win the Top Tackler award.
With no game for the next three weeks, two consecutive Saturdays, we aim to train hard and be ready to repeat this performance when we host Latchford Albion A on the 2nd June. If you want to get involved with the club then please feel free to get in touch.