Undefeated vs Undefeated
By Joe Speakman
Aldwinians end Bolton's win streak
Bolton traveled to Aldwinians in the second fixture of their cup run hoping to continue their winning streak, however the home side we're also in fine form with 3 wins from 3 and were not going to be easy opponents.
From the kick off Bolton were on the back foot conceding ample penalties for ill-discipline around the ruck which allowed Winni's to walk up the field with penalties. Winni's showed they were good in the lineouts winning each one in the first few minutes. This lead to Winni's first try in the 3rd minute when they performed a well structured driving maul form Bolton's 22m and carried it over the line for the opening points of the game, and the conversion successful, they led 7-0 after just 3 minutes.
Bolton didn't seam to learn from their mistakes and were once again starved of the ball from the kick off allowing Winni's to piggy back up field with more penalties. A lineout in a similar position for Winni's saw Bolton collapse it straight away, but unfortunately led to a penalty. Quick thinking from their 9 spotting the broken defence took the quick tap and popped the no. 8 into the gaping hole under the sticks to make it 14-0 after 8 minutes.
At this point Bolton seemed to be completely out of the game and once again allowed Winni's to reach the Bolton 22. From a scum Winni's went for a drop goal however it was poorly struck and gave Bolton possession. Bolton took this with open arms and started to go about their usual structure which saw them creep their way up the field. Winni's began to concede penalties which allowed Bolton valuable yards. The lineout combination of Jon-Paul Hardman and Connor Orrell saw Bolton win 3 consecutive lineouts which lead to great field position. Bolton's first points came in the 15th minute where after great hit-ups from Dave O'Byrne and co. lead to Ben Cottom steaming onto a short ball from Milo Holmes through a tight gap 30m out, who then had the legs to round the fullback and allow Joe Speakman an easy conversion under the posts. 14-7 in favor of Winni's.
Bolton now began to show a bit more desire and passion after the try after a poor start and this lead to great ball retention and structure to once again allow themselves to gain valuable yards up-field from the kick off. After phases and turnovers from both sides, it was Bolton who struck next. Fast hands in the backs saw Piers Crowther make great yards from a Gaz Hession pass which put Bolton on the Winnis 22m with a broken field in front. Winni's with desperate defence turned over the ball, but in doing so spilled it out the ruck leading to Ben Cottom pouncing on it and running in under sticks through a field of bamboozled Winni's players. Joe Speakman adds the 2 and Bolton tie it up 14 all.
The game really started to come alive at this point with great runs from both sides and a lot of open play, it really did lead to a great contest from both sides. With try scoring opportunities scarce Winni's slotted a penalty from 25m out on the 33rd minute to take their side into the lead before half time.
HT: Aldwininas 17-14 Bolton
The second half see's in form Ben Cottom make way for Tom Byrne due to injury. Tries still scarce Bolton have a penalty on the 35m line. Joe Speakman steps up and hits the post in the windy conditions but is allowed to retake due to interference from the Aldiwinians players. He makes the necessary adjustments and ties the game up 17 a piece.
Following this, Winni's score again with a similar try to the first half in the 55th minute. Bolton concede a penalty on their 22m and a quick tap sees them carve through the broken Bolton defence, taking it to 24-17.
A quick response from Bolton however, as just a few minutes later, the veteran Gareth Evans grasps an intercept on the halfway line and thankfully doesn't back his pace and tips it on to Phil Caswell who races home into the corner. Joe Speakman slips on the touchline kick and the ball skims the post taking the game to 24-22. Bolton we're clinching on and fighting to take the lead for the first time in the game but unfortunately what was to come seem to bury Bolton and seal the games fate.
Around the 60th minute the next try scoring opportunity arises with the Aldwininians fly half performing a chip and chase 15m out, but Ryan McClusky has it covered, however Ken Sackfield receives a yellow card for obstructing the fly halfs run and they score from the resulting penalty in the 66th minute; no conversion. 29-22 to Winni's.
Bolton looked very depleted in energy with no subs available as Piers Crowther leaves the field with injury. From the kick off Alex Charnock regains the balls and inspires a Bolton attack, however it is turned over by Aldwinians and on the 68th minute they have a 6 on 2 overlap down the flank. Quick hands sees the Winni's fly half score in the corner after going 60 metres; again no conversion. 34-22 to Winnis.
Depleted and tired Bolton dug deep to try and not lose their unbeaten streak. in the 69th minute Winni's receive a yellow for a high tackle and offer Bolton a glimmer of hope. Bolton turn the screws and in the 74th minute a brilliant storming solo run from Connor Orrell see's him power through 3 or 4 Alwininans defenders and gets the ball down. Joe Speakman adds the 2 with a drop goal in hopes to give Bolton as much time as possible. 34-29, just 5 points behind and a conversion to lead Bolton we're inspired to go on for the victory.
From the kick off Joe Speakman catches the ball and makes 30-40m and offloads to the supporting Ken Sackfield who adds another 10m. Bolton with surely their last attack are now in the Winni's half and continue to pressure. However the tiredness showed and the lack of players able to get to the ruck lead to Winni's turning over the ball and kicking it out of play to end the match.
Man of the match was awarded to Milo Holmes. A consistently good game throughout the 80 and never put a foot wrong, giving great ball to the backs and controlled the forwards well around the rucks.
A really good performance from both teams that provided great entertainment for the spectators but sorrow for Bolton as not only their cup run, but unbeaten streak had ended. Thank you to Aldwinians for a really good game and we wish you the best for the rest of the season.