Having started in early February, SARL’s partner club Bolton Mets ended the season with a bottom of the table clash with Wigan Spring View A.
As per the last few weeks, we really had to use our full resources to make sure we were able to put a side out for this game. Injuries, family/work commitments and other reasons have meant we’ve been left depleted for the season run in, which is disappointing as we knew a win would have meant we’d leapfrog our opponents and potentially finish in sixth place.
The Home side took an early lead with a right to left spread play seeing the Winger score in the corner. This was followed by another try, a short pass finding the angled run of a Second Row Forward, and with one out of two conversions successful they led 10-0 after 20 minutes.
Bolton started reasonably well in attack, some good game management by Hooker Dylan O’Shea and Scrum Half Daryl Devlin meant we completed our opening sets and were able to turn the opposition around. However, things started to crumble mid way through the half when we just couldn’t seem to keep hold of the ball, this gifting possession and field position to Spring View.
Having been given the gift, a barnstorming run by the Wigan substitute skittled several Mets players which led to their next try. Having broken through our line, an offload out the back door to a supporting player extended their lead further, before a fourth try right at the end of the half took the score to 22-0.
Giving his final half time team talk of the season, Head Coach Al Scarbrough tried to gee up his players in the hope things could be turned around, however, with injuries to Mark Riley and Darren Robinson Jnr it meant we were left with a bare 13 for the second 40 minutes.
Even though we had 13 players out on the field, several were playing out of position and this meant we were a little disjointed in both attack and defence. Individual tackling technique is definitely an issue within our ranks, and this was proven in the second half as Spring View tightened their grip on the game.
They were able to score five further tries in the second half, including a length of the field effort from their Centre. This try coming on the back of Bolton pressure on the View try line, unfortunately, some poor handling saw the ball go to ground and we were unable to regroup quickly enough to stop the breakway. Callum Smith tried his hardest to chase down the ball carrier, but just as it looked like he was gaining on him a clash with a team-mate ended the foot race.
Finding ourselves 42-0 down was very frustrating, but when given a penalty in front of the sticks it was decided to take the two points to help avoid being nilled. Daryl Devlin converted the penalty to at least get us on the board for the afternoon.
As we entered the final minute of the game things got even more frustrating. A run by Dylan O’Shea gave us hope, and with support from Full Back Paul Charnock on his left hand side he put in a grubber kick towards the try line, as the ball bounced around the in goal area Charnock was able to beat his opposite number to touch down and score. The cheers from the Mets sideline quickly turned to groans as the referee adjudged that Paul had put a foot over the dead ball line in the act of scoring, this meant the try was wiped out. If that wasn’t bad enough, Spring View broke away from the restart and scored their ninth try of the game to bring the game to a close. The conversion made the final score 48-2 to the Home side.
Having completed his first season of Rugby League, Tom Bradley was named Opposition Man of the Match, beating Daryl Devlin and Dylan O’Shea into second and third place respectively. He was also well in with a shout of also being named Top Tackler for the second week running, but it was Devlin who took this honour after some well timed tackles, particularly against players twice his size, showed that players of all sizes can be an asset on the rugby field.
It’s been a tough old season yet again for Bolton Mets, but as the curtain comes down on our 24th year we are already looking ahead to 2020 and the club’s 25th Anniversary. The final act of the season will be our End of Season Awards Evening, taking place on Saturday 19th October at Bolton Market Lifestyle Hall, and we hope to see you all there.