With everything to play for Chorley welcomed joint leaders Burtonwood Bulldogs to Panther Park for the league title decider. The lads in black and white were clearly up for the challenge and the opening exchanges were fierce with both defences going well. Chorley’s first real chance came on 8 minutes with Burtonwood conceding a penalty in front of their posts. Jack Purdham’s strong run was halted just inches from the line but the ball was quickly worked in field to Jack Swarbrick to scorch over under the posts, self converted to lead 6 - 0.
On 14 minutes, Cameron Boulter cleverly caught the defence out earning a penalty and from the tap a strong run from anton barrow got us to within 7m of the try-line. The ball was fed to Robert Meadows who jinked his way through to score, converted by himself to lead 12 – 0. Burtonwood came back into the game with two unconverted tries on 19 and 24 minutes to close the gap to 12 – 8, but Panthers extended their lead on 28 minutes with a great try. From an attacking scrum 15m out, Tom Sharp switched play to Robert Meadows who made a barnstorming run for the corner, unloading a great ball out of the back to send Jack Swarbrick diving in at the corner for his second try. Half time came with the home side leading 16 – 8.
Both sides started strongly in the second half, the defensive stalemate lasting until the 44th minute when Cameron Boulter and Richard Dennis made good progress up the middle for Robert Meadows to set off on a mazy run through 5 defenders to touch down under the sticks, again self converted to lead 22 – 8. This lead was extended further on 52 minutes when Tom Sharp put through a grubber kick which ricocheted off several players only to pop up nicely for an easy walk in for Jack Swarbrick’s hat-trick, converted again by Meadows, 28 – 8. The visitors kept going and were rewarded with a good converted try on 56 minutes but Panthers sealed the victory on 59 minutes with Cameron Boulter feeding a quick, flat ball to....... wait for it .......yes..... Jack Swarbrick to score his 4th try of the match, converted by Meadows. With the score at 34 – 14, and only a minute left on the clock the celebrations could begin, and the final whistle was greeted by huge cheers from players and supporters alike.
This was the best 60 minute performance of the season, against a very good Burtonwood side. Every player from 1 to 17 (including injured Bobby on the sideline) stood up and contributed massively to the performance. These lads have all worked so hard all season and deserve every credit for what they’ve achieved. Enjoy your success and celebrate as worthy Champions – on behalf of the coaches, parents and supporters, it’s been a genuine pleasure to see just how far you’ve all progressed. Well done lads, and bring on next season - come on you Panthers!!