Kirkby Lonsdale 9 vs Bolton 15
Colts bag a hard-earned victory away to Kirkby Lonsdale.
Rugby is a difficult game to referee. For a start, there are more players than any other sport on the pitch at any one time to keep an eye on, and a lot of things happen in a short period of time. The advent of the Television Match Official (TMO) for the big matches has demonstrated that, even with slow motion replays and multiple camera angles, it is often difficult to come to a conclusive decision. At the top level the referees take the view that as long as the ball is available to use and no foul play has occurred then the game should carry on. This results in entertaining matches where the ball stays in play much longer than it used to and the players understand what they can and can’t get away with at the breakdown. If a referee took it upon him or herself to officiate according to the absolute letter of the laws indiscretions could be found at most breakdowns and the whistle would soon be drowned out by the groans of the crowd. It is a fine line to tread and a difficult one.
Bolton travelled to Kirkby Lonsdale buoyed by improving recent performances. The week had been wet and the pitch could charitably be described as “squelchy” and from the start it was clear that handling would be tricky in those conditions. What was needed under the circumstances to ensure a match enjoyable for the spectators and more importantly given their age and experience, the players, was some sympathetic officiating. It was not forthcoming. It was impossible for either team to establish any rhythm or pattern of play as the whistle blew continuously at the breakdown. The home team’s bigger pack had the early advantage, but with no passages of play lasting more than a couple of phases neither line was threatened. After 15 minutes a clearing kick downfield by Jos Winstanley
fell between the Kirkby Lonsdale back three and Milo Holmes
reacted quickest to hack the ball up to the try line. The ball squirted free and was pounced on by Owen Patel
to score his first try of the match. Kirkby Lonsdale came back into the game, but their big forward runners were kept at bay by the Bolton defensive line with Harry Round
and Ollie Thompson to the fore. Inevitably penalties were awarded and the home team kicked a couple of them to lead 6-5 at the break.
The pattern, or rather lack of it, continued in the second half. Bolton played the conditions the better and kicked for territory rather than be caught in possession. Joe McHugh, Matt Moore and Darren Robinson took the ball up well, but the whistle continued to hold sway. Bolton finally put together a passage of play as they kicked to the corner and a driving maul was stopped illegally near the home line. With another penalty pending they moved the ball into midfield where skipper James Evans
interested a couple of defenders before putting Owen Patel
into space allowing him to crash over near the posts for his second try of the match. Jos Winstanley
converted and, after another Kirkby Lonsdale penalty, added a penalty of his own shortly after to set up a tense finale. Bolton fell foul of the referee repeatedly in the final 10 minutes, but kept their heads and their defensive shape to close out the game for their first win.
Credit must go to both teams for keeping their discipline on a frustrating afternoon. Congratulations to Bolton for the win which their enthusiasm and endeavour have merited. This victory should help the team grow in confidence after a difficult start to the season. Heads have never dropped and all their hard work is finally beginning to bear fruit.