Bolton travelled to Altrincham Kersal in a top of the league crunch, this was set to be a great game and the conditions were ideal. Unfortunately for Bolton, the week's build up to this game wasn't ideal, with availability not at its usual strength due to injuries, bans and prior commitments. Andrew Murtagh was even drafted in last minute on Saturday morning to play his first game of rugby for a few seasons and Louis Critchlow brought his kitbag along just in case, despite the broken hand!
AK started the game brightly scoring a converted try early after a good stint of possession. From the restart, Bolton began to play and began to put pressure on AK in their twenty-two earning three penalties, the first of the two were narrowly missed by Mike Mills. The third was put into touch near the five metre line for a Bolton line out. Further infringements by AK gave Bolton another penalty, they chose to scrum. An early engagement from AK gave Bolton a free kick which Gaz Pritchard was alert to, he took it quick and dived through the AK forwards to score. Mike Mills added the extras.
Bolton were forced into an early change after Josh Holmes was hit late and hard, Bolton's utility sub Tom Swift took his position in the back three.
The game was going at a good pace, with both teams matching each other, both Singleton's could have spent ten minutes in the sin-bin for a high tackle on one another. AK gained territory from their penalty, from which they were patient, they played around the fringes and scored under the posts.
Half time score: 14-7
Bolton were forced into a second change at half time, scrum half James Singleton had taken a knock to the head so came off for Gareth Evans. This saw a large reshuffle, with Evan's going to front row, Niall Murphy to back row, Rhys Pritchard to scrum half and Gaz Pritchard into the centres! This made an already difficult task that little bit harder. Despite this, the effort and desire to play was there with players constantly putting their hand up to take the ball in. AK proved clinical in the second half, pouncing on Bolton's loose balls and countering to great effect eventually running out victors.
Final score: 38-7
Bolton's efforts throughout were immense, and thank you to the players who stepped up to play. There is now two weeks off until Bolton's next league fixture at home on the 2nd March to Sefton.
Enjoy the time off, any knocks or injuries, rehab them properly or see Holly at the club for treatment to ensure you're available come the next selection!