TORRENTIAL rain turned the ground at Avenue Street in Bolton into a quagmire which made Bolton Mets’ 24-16 win against the Old Boys all the sweeter.
After a disappointing 50-0 loss to Liverpool Lions in a pre-season friendly at the end of January, the current side had all to play for. Players young and old battled it out for a year’s worth of bragging rights.
Old Boy Joe Harte got the game under way and both sides made a slow start as they adapted to the boggy conditions.
After few handling errors, play gradually became more consistent in the build up to the first try.
Ryan Terry, playing at Loose Forward, powered through a mass of defenders to cross after 15 minutes. Captain Mark Dorning added the extras, giving the youngsters a 6-0 lead. Terry proved a crucial asset to the home side, and produced a good offload after making good ground and allowing Second Row Rob Tuppen to score a diving try.
Unperturbed, the Old Boys quickly responded with a try of their own minutes later as Martin Gallard crossed followed by a kick from Joe Harte.
Looking strong in attack, the Mets produced some creative plays after excellent marshalling by Stand-Off Ste Hickey, outwitting strong defence by the Old Boys. Hickey used his speed and agility to effortlessly avoid any oncoming defenders, scoring in the 23rd minute.
A late first-half try from Dave Hibbert made it clear that the visitors were not yet finished, making the half time score 18-10. Hibbert was able to fly down the wing after receiving a well-placed pass from Centre Tom Everard.
Dorning kicked off the second half and Fullback Adam Woods put in several crucial tackles to halt breaks made by the Old Boys, showing an improved defensive stance by the home side.
After a tackle busting drive, Chris Brown managed to Colin Crompton stepped up to convert the try and bring the Old Boys to within 2 points of the Mets.
However the young lads sealed the win the in the last minute as Dorning crossed in the corner before converting the kick, giving him 100 per cent kicking success.
Club Secretary, Stuart Cooke, said: “It’s a real confidence boost for the current side going into the new season as even though the Old Boys are not as fit as they used to be the vast amount of experience amongst them will always make them a threat.
“The conditions didn’t allow for too much free flowing rugby but both teams put on a good show and to have just 2 points in it until the final minute made for a great game.”
Final score: 24-16.
Bolton Mets: Dorning, Woods, Terry, Tuppen, Hickey, Charnock, Powell, Shaw, Henderson, Corfield, Fell, Hobson, Cooke, Platt, Walsh
Tries: Terry (15), Tuppen (20), Hickey (23), Dorning (80)
Goals: Dorning (4)
Bolton Mets Old Boys: Hibbert, Nuttall, Ryan, Harte, Bennett, Brown, Crompton, Leech, Parry, Gallard, Hickson, Briody, Clarke, Gribbin, Knight, Lukacs, Everard
Tries: Gallard (19), Hibbert (39), Brown (55),
Goals: Harte (2), Crompton (1)
Referee: Martyn Haigh
By Adam John