Two from Three
By David Crouch
Bolton 29 Leigh 10
Bolton entertained close neighbours Leigh at The Avenue on Saturday. It was the first time in many years that the two sides have met in a competitive game. The weather conditions for the match were excellent as was the pitch. Both teams were playing for the Joey Barnes Memorial Cup - a trophy donated by Joey’s wife following his sad passing in December 2016. Joey represented both of these teams during his playing career and now each fixture between the two clubs is played for this trophy.
Leigh started the game well and Bolton were a bit slow ‘out of the blocks.’ Leigh moved the ball wide on many occasions through their fly-half and put the Bolton defence under pressure. Bolton’s tackling came under pressure and Leigh’s hard running forwards made indents into the Bolton line. In the twelfth minute Leigh were awarded a penalty for off-side but they failed the conversion. Not deterred, Leigh scored a well-worked try in the sixteenth minute and added the conversion. Bolton were creating one or two chances themselves. However they were not clinical enough to finish them off. In the twenty-ninth minute Leigh were awarded a penalty which they converted. At this stage Bolton began to work their way back into the match. Bolton won the ball on the Leigh ten metres line; James Singleton passed an inside ball off the ruck to Louis Critchlow. Louis burst through the Leigh defence, ran twenty metres and passed the ball back to James Singleton who scored underneath the posts. Mike Mills added the conversion.
Half time score: Bolton 7 Leigh 10
The second half started well for Bolton. Substitute Chris Cockton, with his first touch of the ball, broke through the Leigh defence and then passed to Louis Critchlow as he drew the fullback. Louis ran the fifteen metres to score under the posts. Mills added the conversion. The second try of the half for Bolton came in the forty-sixth minute when after some good forward play and an excellent break from captain Rhys Pritchard put Alex Waddicar over for a try in the corner. Bolton were getting on top at this stage but, that said, Leigh were still very much in the match. A penalty by Mills in the fifty-third minute kept the scoreboard ticking over for Bolton. Leigh at this stage had lost two props to injury and the referee ordered ‘uncontested scrums’ which was a big blow for Bolton as they very much had the upper hand in the scrums. In the sixty-eighth minute Alex Waddicar went over for his second try of the match. Leigh still tried hard and some great defence by Bolton kept them a clean sheet in the second half.
Final Score: Bolton 29 Leigh 10
A good win for Bolton, with bonus points, puts them in fourth place in the league after three matches. The second half from Bolton was much more organised on both attack and defence. They should be proud of their performance. The win also gave Bolton the Joey Barnes Memorial Cup.
Man of Match: Tony McLaughlin
An alternate Match Report can be found here