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Sunday, 10 March 2013
A cold, windy day in Fleetwood was not enough to deter a considerable crowd of supporters from Bolton to watch the Under 14s take on Liverpool College in the final of the Lancashire Plate. A promising season led all to believe a win was possible for the team in black and white, though against an unknown opposition who had beaten Cowley in their semi-final, everyone knew that the Bolton players would have to be at their best to take victory.
Liverpool College started with the wind at their backs, a significant advantage in the first half. However, the tone was set by the Bolton forwards from the first kick off. Bolton scrum half David Price hung his kick up in the wind, allowing flanker Will Hinchcliffe to run on to the ball at full pace, driving into the College ranks and setting up a rampaging first drive from Bolton, culminating in a try for Patrick Uzoka. A breathless start.
The game then settled into a pattern of Liverpool College using the wind to kick deep into Bolton territory and Bolton running the ball back into the team in red and their 16th man; the raw wind blowing straight off the Irish Sea. Another well-worked Bolton try scored by centre Lewis Tunnah and converted by David Price was answered by Liverpool College’s impressive centre who showed his pace and power to bring the score back to 12 – 5. Bolton started to tire, as their mammoth effort of the opening 15 minutes started to take its toll, Liverpool College scoring another try to bring the score back to 12 – 10. The pressure began to build, Bolton seemingly incapable of getting out of their own half and defending against wave after wave of attacks. As half time approached, Liverpool College spread the ball wide, with a three man overlap and the line gaping, but Rohan Patel intercepted and showed a clean pair of heals to sprint the length of the field and score a spectacular solo try.
19 – 10 up at half time and playing with the elements in the second half, the Bolton team knew that it was a case of asserting their forward dominance and keeping Liverpool College pinned in their own half. Indeed, Bolton’s half backs ran the show for the rest of the match, captain Price marshalling his forwards and testing the opposition with probing kicks, fly half Bevan using the wind to find the open spaces deep in Liverpool College territory. While the men in red still looked dangerous on the counter-attack, they cracked under the constant pressure and barracking runs from Kanji and Hargreaves led to a bullocking try for second row Jonathon Wallis. Nevertheless, a wounded animal is a most dangerous beast, and Liverpool College then had their best period of the second half, scoring two tries through strong bursts through the centre and out wide. At 24 – 20, nerves could have begun to fray but Bolton always seemed to be the superior team, and put the game to bed through an excellent winger’s finish from Matthew Bateman which was converted to make it 31 – 20. As much as Liverpool College strained and fought, Bolton never looked like conceding any further points, playing out the rest of the game strongly up to the final whistle which was met with much rejoicing on the pitch and on the touchline.
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