Renewed Rangers rivalry ends in defeat for Mets

Saddleworth Rangers Bolton Mets

For the first time in nearly a decade we made the trip to Saddleworth to face one of the most famous names in amateur Rugby League.

A strong start by Bolton reaped early rewards when Winger Dan Johnson received the ball from Captain Mark Dorning before beating three Saddleworth Rangers A players to the line. This was the first Mets try for Dan, which now puts him level with fellow recent recruit Calem Thompson. Mark converted the try to give the Mets a 6-0 lead.

The much improved performance continued for a good 30 minutes as Bolton caused the Rangers several problems. Hard driving forward by Props Jason Nuttall and Neil Walsh made inroads in to the oppositions half before the Half Back pairing of Dorning and Martin Galland turned on the style.

Saddleworth levelled the scores mid way through the half when one of their big forwards powered over close to the line, they then took the lead just after the half hour mark with a spread play releasing the Winger down the left touchline.

A patchy end to the half for the Mets meant another try was scored by the Home side, which took the half time score to 18-6 in favour of the Rangers.

Head Coach Al Scarbrough made a couple of changes at the break, Andy Platt and Neil Chadwick earning a rest whilst Johnson moved into Second Row and debutant Martyn Mercer came onto the Wing.

As the second half got underway you could sense that Saddleworth had the bit between their teeth, unfortunately, their experience was to be too much for our players. A run of three tries went in to open up a 34-6 lead for the Rangers before we regrouped and stemmed the flow.

Despite a sin binning for Loose Forward Josh Bourne, Bolton regained some control and started to create chances again. Full Back Joe Harte made some good yards forward, as did Wingers Gareth Shaw and Martyn Mercer, before Galland worked closely with Paul Leigh down the left.

With the extra man advantage, Saddleworth only managed to cross the line on one more occasion to extend their lead before Bourne returned from the bin. In all honesty it was against the run of play, with the Mets camped on our opponent’s line Galland threw a pass intended for Shaw only to see it intercepted and the opposing Winger sprint the full length of the field. Showing real desire to stop him scoring under the post several players chased him down and made sure he could only put the ball down in the corner.

Two further tries followed for the Rangers before the final whistle, however, these sandwiched a second Mets try. Neil Walsh switched to Stand Off due to an injury, and with the line only feet away he dropped off the hard running Ryan Terry who barged his way over. With three players trying to hold him up he was still able to get the ball down and register the four points. Unfortunately, Harte missed the conversion which left the final score at 50-10 to Saddleworth Rangers A.

The opposition picked out Terry as Man of the Match, commenting that his hard running and faultless tackling made him a worthy winner, whilst earning the runners up spots were Dan Johnson and Josh Bourne. Hooker Calem Thompson walked away with the Top Tackler award after putting in several try saving tacklers.

We take a break from league action next week as we travel to face Clock Face Miners A in the NWML Shield.

Picture: Jackie Clowes