By Joe Speakman
Bolton 2nd XV retain their unbeaten 2019 with an away win at Southport in very windy conditions.
A fine afternoon for some rugby across at Southport, Bolton travelled with high hopes of continuing their winning ways. A few line-up changes sees JP step in at prop for Chappers, Swift in at second row pushing skipper Charnock back to flanker, Stocks in at 9 sending Speaky to the back 3, Brownlow comes back in at 12 covered in tape from head to toe, Shacks in at 13 and JK returns to the line-up.
Bolton started the game very well, as did Southport who used the wind to their advantage and sent the back three on a post Christmas fitness camp running the ball back which they did remarkably well, but eventually it caught up to Bolton where they conceded a penalty on he 5th minute and Southport take the 3 points.
'05: 3 - 0 Southport.
Bolton were not phased by this lapse in concentration and were straight back up the other end following the kick off. In the 9th minute great hands from the backs sees Joe Speakman draw the 2 on 1 and James Kelly runs the ball beyond the try-line for an early meat pie. The wind blows the ball back on the conversion from Speakman.
'09: 3 - 5 Bolton.
A very even game however at this point with Southport mainly dominating possession using their big men to chip away metres up the field, but the Bolton defence was rock solid today and didn't look like being beaten. in the 15th minute Bolton are back up to the 22, courtesy of great yards from Chris Brownlow, who was in fine form following a lengthy injury with a broken nail or something, and capitalised on this by converting a penalty through the boot of Speakman.
'15: 3 - 8 Bolton.
A slow game from Southport who mainly used their forwards to work up the field contrasting to Bolton who were picking holes in the backs. Next on the score sheet was Southport who again kicked a penalty on the 25th minute.
'25: 6 - 8 Bolton.
Bolton looked dangerous every time they got the ball, but this wasn't too often to the credit of Southport who recycled the ball excellently. Bolton allowed them to do this though as their tackling was great and didn't want to conceded another penalty which would give Southport the lead before the half. Tactic working, Bolton spy a turn over in midfield and after a quick ruck, Kieran Shacklock picks the ball up at 9 and breaks from the 40m line. Speakman is gaining in support but Shacklock is keen to go alone (or just didn't see him, he is small), and proceeds to go for the flair play of chipping the fullback which he slices and angles it towards the corner flag were a Southport winger is in pursuit. Shaklock, the Southport 15 and 14 are all racing for the ball where they collide 5m out, the 14 pushes the ball backwards and Joe Speakman simply taps the ball down on the try line under the sticks on the stroke of half time. Apparently we don't have any match notes from this section post try, but it seems Speakman may have missed the kick? The wind may have picked up, but I guess we'll never know...
'40 HT: 6 - 13 Bolton.
Bolton were very confident at this point but knew a score from Southport early on would be detrimental. Bolton are always keen for a lacklustre first 10 in the second half and had made it a point that this week be the week we don't switch off after the break. Alas, no points conceded between minutes 40-50 and even up to 60... however on the 61st Southport strike, but with the wind against them miss the conversion.
'61: 11 - 13 Bolton.
A very nervy time for Bolton as Southport really did look on top and knew that they couldn't let Southport build any momentum. Apparently Shacklock heard this and just went and stole the ball on the 63rd minute from the kick off in the Southport 30 and ran it in under the sticks so cheers Kie for that one. Speakman adds the 2.
'63: 11 - 20 Bolton.
The following 10 minutes saw the Southport crowd really fire them up and this resonated in the play they produced. Very hard drives and runs from the forwards had Bolton going backwards, and the ball retention from Southport was admirable, something Bolton should look to imitate in the coming weeks. Big scrums and pick-and-goes had Bolton in their own 22 for 10 straight minutes. Huge credit went to the forwards here who had impeccable defence all game and set great platforms for the backs to work off. Eventually Bolton turn over a scrum through a penalty and kick their way out of danger and in just a few phases they're on the Southport 5m. Quick thinking from Harry Stocks on the line passes a beautifully weighted ball to the blind-side to the incoming Danny Joseph who slices through the defence untouched and sets it down just shy of the sticks. Speakman converts and Bolton take a breath of fresh air.
'75: 11-27 Bolton.
Bolton felt that the game could be seen out here and just ensured that they retained the ball and kept their quality defence up. The ball with Bolton and they're finding holes out on the flanks with a depleted Southport team in front. Resulting from this the ball is worked wide to Shacklock from Gaz Hession, who then dummy switches with Speakman and proceeds to run down the wing. Speakman and Kelly to his left and right respectively with a few Southport defenders chasing and the fullback to beat, Kieran Shacklock dummies to both men and runs it home for his 2nd of the game, and 5th in 2 matches. STILL NO JUG HAS BEEN BOUGHT KIERAN! Speakman adds the 2 and wraps the game up.
'78: 11 - 34 Bolton.
The game is saw out by Bolton from the kick off and they take their second win of 2019. This is the first time that the Bolton defence had been really tested this season as Southport faught very well, but boy did it hold up. The motm was given to Chris Brownlow for his excellent hits in defence, huge total metre gain and his excellent late hit on the Southport prop. Honourable mention again to Gaz Hession who was instrumental in the middle of the park, and the whole Bolton pack for their defensive efforts.
'80 FT: 11 - 34 Bolton.
Match photos can be found here: http://www.southportrfc.com/photos/southport-rfc-2nd-xv-v-bolton-120119-860500.html