Having only organised the game at the last minute we were left with a slightly depleted squad, however, the 14 men that turned out enjoyed the opportunity to get back out on the field, and all this despite the rain pouring down from the first minute until the last.
Switching from his usual position on the Wing, Mark Riley found himself in the middle of all the action by playing at Hooker for the first time in his career. Despite his lack of experience in the role, Mark was outstanding throughout and has certainly put his hat in the ring if Head Coach Al Scarbrough ever needs to change his first choice Hooker.
Bury Broncos had the advantage when it came to the number of players, but dare I say it also the quality. With a large number of players plying their trade in NWML Division Two, three full divisions above Bolton Mets, it meant they had the edge over us in the key areas. One of those areas was in the halves, having a pairing that play together week in week out makes a big difference and is something the Mets haven’t been able to achieve of late due to injuries. Some slick handling from the Home side had to applauded, a couple of cut out passes lead to tries in the first half and a dive over from close range helped them open up a 28-0 lead.
As the teams turned around, Captain Rick Ackers and Assistant Coach Darren Robinson Snr kept up morale by pointing out several positives and reiterating that the result was unimportant as it was only a friendly. The lads responded well to this and were eager to kick off the second half.
Drafted in only a day or two before the game, new Mets recruit Mike Evans started the game at Loose Forward and was another player to receive praise. Several strong ball carries and solid tackling were the highlight of his performance, which puts him in good stead ahead of the three remaining games this season.
Now playing downhill, the Mets made good inroads into the Bury half, led by Full Back James Lacey and Prop Forward Ryan Terry, and threatened their line on a number of occasions. Unfortunately, the defensive line kept us at bay and we were unable to find a chink in their armour during this period.
A breakaway try in the second half and a score right at the death meant Bury had extended their lead by the final whistle, despite this we weren’t going to be too downhearted as we were happy to have just got a game off the ground. The score ended 44-0 to the Home side and gave them a little bit of revenge for last years double defeat to Bolton Mets in the NWML, hopefully the derby clash will be back on the calendar next year if the A side of Bury rejoin the league structure.
Playing his first game since returning from representing his club and country in Jamaica, Rick Ackers picked up his first MOM award of the season, whilst James Lacey and Mark Riley were named as runners up. Impressing on debut, Mike Evans earned the Top Tackler award and set his level for the remainder of the year.
This coming weekend, Bolton Mets travel to Newcastle for our annual tour where we’ll play a curtain raiser vs a North East Select XIII ahead of the NERL Grand Final between Jarrow Vikings and Edinburgh Eagles. The tour is always a highlight of the Mets calendar, and as you can imagine we’ll be hellbent on having the best time possible up in the Toon.