Our penultimate game of the season was a reversed fixture with Wigan Spring View A, meaning yet another bonus Home game for the Mets in 2018.
The Away side took an early lead with a converted try close to the uprights, a second try followed around the 15-minute mark when a missed tackle deep in the opposition half allowed the Loose Forward time to sprint away and score.
In between the two Wigan tries there was a nice bit of play by Bolton, an interception from Centre Ben Latham saw him make 50 yards up field before being brought down by the Full Back. From the next play the ball, Captain Rick Ackers made more inroads before offloading to the supporting Ste Hickey, and just as it looked like he was about to dive over and score in the corner the covering defender did just enough to push him into touch.
Finding ourselves 12-0 down we had to push on and force a couple of repeat sets. Attacking the Spring View line, Ste Hickeythrew a cut out pass to find Ben Latham hugging the touchline who was then able to reap the rewards and touch down and get us off the mark.
We continued to improve in the first half, and it was a break down the left flank this time that saw Centre Patrick O’Brien release Hickey only for the referee to rule it a forward pass, incorrectly in our opinion. Not long later, Hickey suffered a cut below the eye due to a clash of heads with a Spring View player, but fortunately he was able to continue.
With time running out in the opening half, a drive from Jason Nuttall was stopped just short of the line before quick thinking Hooker Tom Cain dived over from the resulting play the ball. Having made his first appearance for the Mets in the recent Nines Tournament, Tom was making his official debut and causing all sorts of problems for the opposition. Daryl Devlin slotted over the conversion but having missed the first we were now 12-10 behind going into the break.
After suffering a serious knee injury two years ago on his debut, Patrick O’Brien has had to wait a long time to make his second Mets appearance. Working his way back gradually, Patrick was replaced at half time due to a slight twinge in the knee, meaning a switch to Centre for Rob Tuppen and a place in the Second Row for Will Brown.
Our performance towards the end of the first half gave us some encouragement going into the second forty minutes, however, it started by following the same pattern with two quick tries for the View. This took their lead from 2 points to 10 points and put us under some real pressure for the remainder of the game.
Leading from the front as he has all season, Loose Forward Rick Ackers crashed through a would be tackle and after shirking off a last-ditch ankle tap sprinted away to score. This is now becoming his trademark, scoring tries from deep inside his own half and out pacing the chasing defenders. Devlin was again successful with the conversion and reduced the gap down to 4.
Despite getting back to within striking distance, things started to go down hill rapidly for the Mets as we allowed the Away side to run at us. Missed tackles and poor defensive structure gifted them 3 quick fire tries to take the game out of reach, a final try cementing victory for the guys from Spring View with a 42-16 score line.
Even though he suffered a cut below the eye, resulting in some natty second half strapping and later leading to 5 stitches, Ste Hickey was picked out as Opposition’s Man of the Match ahead of Rick Ackers and Rob Tuppen. The Top Tackler Award went to 17 yr old Tom Cain, who continued to bring down guys close to twice his size from the first minute to the last and proved that if you are good enough then you are old enough.
We now have one more league game to go in NWML Division 5, we host Champions Thatto Heath B on Saturday 8th September at Greenhalgh’s Pavilion, Bolton Rugby Club, BL1 3AW, before signing off for another year. Although having said that, we do actually end the year with our tour game vs North Brussels Gorillas in the Belgian capital on Saturday 15th September.
*Credit: John McGibbon Photography