Baltic in Bolton: Vandals out in the cold

Bolton 3rds 24 Fylde Vandals 5

The temperature didn’t get above 2 degrees all day and the icy cold rain was pretty incessant but it didn’t stop those hardy Vandals heading down the M61 to Avenue Street Bolton for the return league fixture between these two long term friends and on-pitch rivals. The nnn nineteen was a mixture of the usual suspects plus a scattering of youthfulness in the shape of Nathan Bagshaw, Jack Worsley and debutants Joe Crompton and Alex Graham. El Capitan Ben James was ill so skipper on the day was Pete Acton.

The warm-up went like a dream with only one spilt ball. This was usually a sign of peaking too early but with all the set pieces and backs moves looking slick, confidence was high come the kick-off. It was six of one and half a dozen of the other during the early exchanges but it was Bolton who opened the scoring as their elusive and nippy scrum-half turned on the afterburners from a quickly taken penalty and ghosted through the Vandals midfield to go under the posts.

The Vandals regathered themselves and with some clever kicking from halfbacks Phil Swindells and Paul Green they began to apply pressure on the Bolton boys. They got into the home teams red zone and after some fantastic work from the forwards Richard Todd dived for the line. As Bolton drove him back the eagle eyed referee had spotted that Toddy had already grounded the pill on the whitewash and awarded the try. Unfortunately the extras weren’t added.

Tony Rawlinson picked up a nasty finger injury and was replaced by Hakan Ilhan. It later transpired that Rolo had a badly displaced fracture to his right middle pinky and we hope he has a speedy recovery from that.

Bolton’s scrum was very solid with a couple of gnarly old boys propping and this laid a good foundation for their strong runners to make inroads into Vandals territory. The Vandals front row and engine room worked unbelievably hard to stem the Bolton advances and the back row was a thorn in Bolton’s side all afternoon. Special mention must go to Damian King who continues to impress at prop even though he generally gives a couple of stone away to his opposite number and also Gary Andrews who started the game at fullback but finished it at tighthead prop, an awesome effort from these two warriors. Dave Porter from No. 8 made untold metres in attack and Jack and Rob King double teamed the breakdowns turning plenty of ball over all day.

Paul Green was kicking and defending superbly but took a blow to the head in a tackle just before half time. He unfortunately couldn’t carry on so Jack Worsley came on at 9 moving the old bloke out to 10. Bolton managed to grab a try but it was all to play for in the second stanza.

The conditions hadn’t improved as the 2nd half got under way and Bolton began to take control of the game. The Vandals defence was as dogged and determined as usual but inevitably the pressure told. Bolton were able to use a strong sideline to good effect and with the Vandals picking up several more injuries the team was hastily juggled by Tom Godfrey. He emptied the bench once and then re-emptied it a second time but the Vandals still had to finish the game with 14 men. It was just one of those days! Bolton finished the game strongly and scored a couple more tries and with the score 24-5 to the home team the referee blew for full time.

This was a hard earned but deserved victory for Bolton and I’d like to wish them all the best for the rest of the season. Let’s hope they get a few more victories and secure their place in this league. Thanks for the pies and pasties afterwards although I think they must have thought a Sugarvine review was coming their way as they also opened a tin of beans to accompany the pies of Cecil Holland and the last couple of Vandals who ventured up to the food counter!!

Thanks to the nnn nineteen Vandals who made the trip, the effort shown in pretty horrendous conditions was second to none. Thanks also goes to Mark Worsley who was our lone wolf supporter on the far side of the pitch. Unfortunately we sign off 2018 with a loss but with way more home games than away ones in 2019 the signs are good for a great second half of the season and it all begins on the 5th January when Aspull 2nds visit the Woodlands. Have a great Christmas and New Year Vandals fans and we’ll see you all very soon, cheers!!

Fylde Vandals – Richard Todd, Chris Cardwell, Damian King, Mike Hewitson, Tony Rawlinson, Rob King, Jack King, Dave Porter, Phil Swindells, Paul Green, Cecil Holland, Joe Crompton, Pete Acton, Nathan Bagshaw, Gary Andrews, Jack Worsley, Tom Godfrey, Hakan Ilhan, Alex Graham

EPD in absentia – Sean Townsend

Report – Phil Swindells

Supporter – Mark Worsley

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