Rugby Union: Littleborough Seconds 24 - 15 Bolton Seconds
Date published: 07 November 2017
Andy Bairstow - Littleborough Seconds
Two tries scored from quickly taken penalties left Bolton perplexed and helped Littleborough Seconds close the gap on their second placed rivals.
With both sides fighting for an all-important victory that will have significant consequences at the end of the season, fifth placed Littleborough made Bolton pay with two moments of intelligent rugby to reduce the gap between them in the table from seven points to four, with Rochdale having a game in hand.
Both teams were well matched throughout and it made for an exciting and enthralling encounter between two promotion chasing teams desperate to end years of disappointment.
Bolton took the early lead in this one with a penalty from the boot of the full back after Littleborough's breakdown indiscretions were captured by the referee.
Boro responded by scoring the afternoon's first try. After Littleborough overturned a Bolton scrum five metres out, Josh Ellidge burrowed over from close range next to the right-hand post.
The lead of the game changed hands again when Bolton scored a try out wide. Quick hands gave the Bolton full back the space he needed to break the tackle and dot down, much to the delight of the travelling Bolton players and coach.
Littleborough controlled the rest of the first half and when scrum half Chris Kolbuck used all his experience to take a quick tap penalty 30 metres out while Bolton were bemoaning a decision against them, and he exploited it with a lung bursting run to just three metres from the line. As the ball was recycled quickly, half back-partner Andrew Bairstow broke through a despairing last-ditch tackle to dot down under the posts.
Half time: Littleborough Seconds 14 - 10 Bolton
Early in the second half, a penalty on half way by Konrad Hill found good distance to Bolton's 22 on the left hand side and while Bolton walked back expecting a lineout, Bairstow used the opportunity to take a quick lineout to Joel Rawlinson. The full back still had some work to do to score but he bulldozed his way through the first tackle before holding off two others to stretch his hand out and find the whitewash.
Bolton controlled the rest of the half, but for the most part they could not find a breakthrough as Littleborough's aggressive defence saw Chris Collins, Murphy Holt and Adam Browne all gain crucial turnovers when under the cosh.
Bolton did find an opening to score their second try of the afternoon but it was too little too late and a Konrad Hill penalty for Littleborough saw the end of Bolton's fight back.