Manchester made heavy weather of seeing of a resilient Bolton, on a day their scrum was totally dominant and the line out worked well but they were held back as they continually turned the ball over in the loose.
Early pressure from Manchester forced Bolton into conceding ground straight from the kick off, following two penalties Manchester moved the ball quickly across the line where a clean break in the centre allowed Nick Elliot a walk in try, converted by Freeman 7v0.
A lack of concentration from the resultant kick off allowed Bolton to disrupt a ruck and gain possession close to the try line, they moved the ball across the back line for the centre to break through and score, try converted 7v7.
Despite a dominant scrum Manchester were unable to establish any pattern of play, frequently taking the ball into contact and losing out at the ruck or through a choke tackle. From one such loss of the ball, Bolton forced a penalty in front of the posts and went ahead 7v10.
Poor ball retention and niggling errors prevented by both sides taking scoring opportunities, resulting from clean breaks being made.
Close to the end of the first half a break by Manchester deep into the Bolton 22 forced a penalty which was kicked to touch, however, the chance seemed to be wasted with a crooked throw in. Bolton under pressure in the scrum elected for a line out, which they won but the clearance kick was charged down, the ball fell to Doug Day who scored, conversion missed 12v10.
A clean break by Freeman from the kick off took play into the Bolton 22 where they conceded a penalty wide out, in the dying seconds of the half Freeman slotted this to give Manchester a deserved 15v10 lead.
Manchester created a lot of pressure on the Bolton line early in the second half, with a series of close in drives, wide on the left, however, when the ball was released to the backs it was intercepted and Bolton relieved the pressure. When the ball was once again dropped by Manchester in the mid field the ball was moved to the right where their dangerous full back was able to round the defence and score under the post, conversion made 15v17.
Once again Bolton stopped a number of Manchester drives by stealing ball in the ruck or forcing penalties. From one such penalty the ball was kicked to touch in the Manchester 22. Although the line out was lost, from the resulting scrum Manchester tried to run the ball out rather than go for the safer option of a kick to touch. The ball was spilled, Bolton moved the ball to the right wing and eventually crashed over, conversion missed 15v22.
At this point Manchester seemed to wake up and finally put some passages of play together and managed to retain the ball in attack. This mixed with some individual brilliance from Doug Day and Ollie Dickinson both scoring tries from deep; not to mention a rare kick through by Harry Noar which allowed Jake Stewart to go over; two conversions and a penalty by Freeman rounded off the scoring at 35v22.
Overall this was much closer than it needed to be, scores in the last 15 minutes flattering Manchester. With a dominant scrum, functioning line out it should not have been this close. Manchester need to find a way of exploiting this dominance with more crisp and accurate movement of the ball down the back line. However, Bolton need to be commended for their play in the loose, where they won the battle at the breakdown, continually turning the ball over at rucks and from the use of the choke tackle.
In the end another win, with a try bonus point moves Manchester up the league.