Bolton 18 Fleetwood 18: Match report
Fleetwood gave a much-improved performance against a Botlon side who had beaten them heavily at Melbourne Avenue last month in the North Lancs/Cumbria League.
Fleetwood tried to run the ball at every opportunity but fell behind to an early penalty.
This lead was extended when Fleet lost possession trying to run out of their own 22 and Bolton scored from a kick-and-chase.
With the conversion added, Fleet were 10 points down after 15 minutes but they stuck to their game plan as centres Tom Wilson and Owen Brown punched holes in the Bolton defence.
A Scott Richardson penalty got the visitors on the scoreboard and they began to play some quality rugby.
Full-back Jack Crompton ran the ball back strongly each time Bolton kicked downfield and Richardson’s second penalty cut the gap to 10-6.
Those two combined for the first Fleetwood try as Richardson stole the ball and fed Crompton who raced 50 metres before sending left winger Kris Phillips in for the try.
Richardson added the extras and Fleet had turned a 10-0 deficit into a 13-10 half-time lead.
The visitors’ lineout was working well and one good catch resulted in hooker Jack Brocklehurst being driven over for a try.
Bolton bounced back and a penalty brought them back within striking distance at 18-13.
James Torkington and Chris Jones were prominent in defence but Fleet lost scrum-half Tom Evans to injury after an hour.
Bolton were held up just short, but from the ensuing ruck their impressive lock Louis Critchlow crashed over. The conversion was missed and the teams went into the last 10 minutes all square.
Fleet were forced to finish the game with 14 men after Harrison Lumb was sent to the sidelines for a punch. Coach Steve Woodburn brought himself on to steady the ship.
Both teams had late chances to win it. Richardson was unsuccessful with a penalty from halfway, while Jones chased back heroically to prevent a Bolton try from a kick.
It means three points still separate these mid-table sides at year end, with Bolton sixth and Fleetwood seventh.