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1st XV - Match centre

A Miller, S Akehurst, J Rowe  (2), J Robinson, J Watson
Full time
C Foster (5)
Sat 9 Sep 15:00 - Northern Division - North Lancs/Cumbria



Aspatria led the game from minute 4, scored 6 tries and earned 5 points on their way to victory. But they only shook off a determined Bolton challenge as the final whistle blew to confirm a 40:33 win.

On a rare day of Cumbrian sunshine the combatants at Bower Park appeared determined to entertain a sizeable crowd. Both teams committed to all-out attack when in possession and they found each other’s defence in a generous mood as tries rolled in at both ends of the field on a regular basis.

Aspatria started with a spell of rugby that might have seen off a less determined team than Bolton. The visitors rarely had their hands on the ball for the first 15 minutes except to hoof it out of defence. During this period Aspatria ran in two scores, the first after 4 minutes and it was a beauty. A scrum was won on the Bolton 22 and a backs move to the left committed all available defenders to allow fullback Andrew Miller an unopposed run to the corner flag. Craig Foster’s touchline conversion was good for a 7:0 lead.

37 photos

It was all Aspatria at this stage with backrow tyro, Jacques Rowe foiling all attempts by Bolton to obtain any meaningful possession. The score board should have moved again on 12 minutes when another attack down the left flank looked certain to result in a score only for a final pass to go astray. The home supporters did not have to wait long for further success. On 15 minutes a desperate Bolton clearing kick went into the hands of right winger, Grant Bethwaite and he roared upfield to set-up an attacking position just inside the Bolton half. The backrow trio of Rowe, Gary Hodgson and Adam Cavanagh combined to gain further ground before the ball was released to centre, Scott Akehurst who danced through the defence for 14:0.

Bolton looked dead and gone but to their credit used the setback to come back into contention. From having next to no possession in the first 15 minutes, Bolton rarely were without it for the next 15 as they gave Aspatria a torrid time in defence.

The revival was on but the first signs indicated that Aspatria could absorb the pressure. Bolton missed a regulation penalty attempt but continued to push the home side back against their try line. On 27 minutes Bolton should have been on the scoreboard when a powerful forward maul took them to the line and sucked in Aspatria defenders. The ball came back and was spun left where an overlap awaited but instead of using the extra man the centre went to bludgeon his way over and failed. It was only a small respite for Aspatria with the Bolton break through coming on 30 minutes. A piece of individual skill from scrum half Will Bate who took the ball from the back of a 5m scrum and wrong-footed the Aspatria backrow to create space to go over for 14:7.

Aspatria’s response was immediate. After regaining the ball from the restart virtually the whole team was involved in an intricate passing and off-loading move that eventually put Akehurst on a run down the right wing. Akehurst was dragged down 15 meters short but Rowe was on his shoulder to take the ball on and over the line for 21:7.

From the restart Bolton returned the favour , regained the ball and moved immediately into attacking mode. The Aspatria defence was poor but Rhys Pritchard at 10 still had to have the vision to spot the gap and dart over the line for an unconverted score. This ended the half with Aspatria having the advantage at 21:12.

The score line was far from comfortable for Aspatria and in a nervous start to the half the Black Reds did their best, with some poor handling, to hand Bolton another score. Centre Alex Waddicar emerged from a farce of ball retention on a gallop to the line but he was stopped short by fullback Andrew Miller. The referee deemed Miller to have acted illegally and he was yellow carded. Perhaps a case for a penalty try but with other defenders in the vicinity the referee gave Aspatria the benefit of the doubt.

Aspatria scored next with a break out from their 22 around the 50 minute mark. The catalyst for this was sheer doggedness from Rowe who disrupted Bolton possession with a mighty hack in broken play that sent the ball flying upfield. Aspatria were back in charge and from the resulting scrum Jason Ward took the ball at the base and exploited space on the blind-side to send left winger Jack Robinson unopposed over the line for 26:12.

This was end to end stuff and Bolton were next up with a third try on 54 minutes. This was a well worked score using good control at a line out 6 meters out from the Aspatria line. The ball was retained and beautifully disguised as it came to Bate who charged at the line but with a superb offload passed inside to the onrushing front rower Nial Murphy who proved unstoppable from this distance. The conversion was good and Bolton back in the contest at 26:17.

Aspatria made a complete mess of the restart and were fortunate not to concede another score. The ball was regathered deep into home territory and perversely set off a move that would result in a Black Reds score. The charge downfield faltered at times but ball retention was perfect and this eventually created space on 58 minutes for Rowe to sprint down the right touchline and over for 33:17.

Bolton would not lie down. The pace of the game was frenetic, both teams suffered from handling errors. Bolton won the ‘mistakes’ lottery and on 66 minutes again moved back in touching distance of Aspatria with an unconverted try from Ryan McClusky. The conversion was missed and Aspatria still had a cushion at 33:24. Importantly, this 4th score secured at least a bonus point for the visitors.

With the game moving into the final 10 minutes there was more yet more drama to follow. This mini passage of play started well for Aspatria as No10, Josh Watson scored try number 6. The move started with a penalty into the corner and a traditional Aspatria catch and drive. When this movement faltered the ball was flung into midfield where Watson took it at pace and opened up the Bolton defence with a piercing dart under the posts.

At 40:24 this should have made the game safe? Bolton again settled to their task and with 3 minutes remaining rattled in try number 5. Fullback Jonny Stanfield who looked dangerous all game outpaced a flailing tackle and Aspatria awoke to a 40:33 score line. A second bonus point for Bolton and still time to kick off.

The final 2 minutes seemed like 2 hours for watching Aspatria loyalists as Bolton regained possession and searched for the score that would bring them level. Aspatria’s defence held and when the ball was mishandled by Bolton to end the game it was the home side who heaved the biggest sigh of relief.

It’s our final Kids First Champion for the season! David ‘Flats’ Flatman and two special guests surprise Ellingham & Ringwood RFC.

Key moments

Try Andrew Miller scores for Aspatria
Conversion Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
Try Scott Akehurst scores for Aspatria
Conversion Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
Try Jacques Rowe scores for Aspatria
Conversion Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
Try Jack Robinson scores for Aspatria
Try Jacques Rowe scores for Aspatria
Conversion Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
Try Joshua Watson scores for Aspatria
Conversion Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria

Videos and photos

37 photos


View 0 new events
71:00 Conversion 40 - 0
Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
70:00 Try 38 - 0
Joshua Watson scores for Aspatria
59:00 Conversion 33 - 0
Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
58:00 Try 31 - 0
Jacques Rowe scores for Aspatria
50:00 Try 26 - 0
Jack Robinson scores for Aspatria
43:00 Yellow Card
Andrew Miller is yellow carded for Aspatria
End of period 1
33:00 Conversion 21 - 0
Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
32:00 Try 19 - 0
Jacques Rowe scores for Aspatria
16:00 Conversion 14 - 0
Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
15:00 Try 12 - 0
Scott Akehurst scores for Aspatria
5:00 Conversion 7 - 0
Craig Foster kicks a conversion for Aspatria
4:00 Try 5 - 0
Andrew Miller scores for Aspatria
Start of the game
Replay game

As it happened

  • Aspatria
  • Bolton
  • 0
  • Andrew Miller Try 4:00'
  • Craig Foster Conversion 5:00'
  • Scott Akehurst Try 15:00'
  • Craig Foster Conversion 16:00'
  • Jacques Rowe Try 32:00'
  • Craig Foster Conversion 33:00'
  • Andrew Miller Yellow Card 43:00'
  • Jack Robinson Try 50:00'
  • Jacques Rowe Try 58:00'
  • Craig Foster Conversion 59:00'
  • Joshua Watson Try 70:00'
  • Craig Foster Conversion 71:00'

Team selection

Miller, Andrew Miller, Andrew
Robinson, Jack Robinson, Jack
Akehurst, Scott Akehurst, Scott
Foster, Craig Foster, Craig
Bethwaite, Grant Bethwaite, Grant
Watson, Joshua Watson, Joshua
Ward, Jason Ward, Jason
Hodgson, Gary Hodgson, Gary
Rowe , Jacques Rowe , Jacques
Ravell, James Ravell, James
Atkinson, Matthew Atkinson, Matthew
Ridley, Liam Ridley, Liam
Richards Kirkbride, Paul Richards Kirkbride, Paul
Lister, Michael Lister, Michael
Ravell, Ashley Ravell, Ashley

League round up

Other North Lancs/Cumbria results

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League table

# Team Pl Pts
1. De La Salle (Salford) 26 98
2. Aspatria 26 97
3. Bolton 26 95
4. Wigton 26 82
5. Keswick 26 81
6. Oldham 26 76
7. Tarleton 26 75


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