Thornleigh Former Pupils 12 - Old Boltonians 0
Thornleigh rugby players from years gone by, gathered at Bolton RUFC on Sunday 25th November, to replay encounters with the old enemy Old Boltonians. A few late cry offs due to injuries from the previous day or the dreaded flu/cold bug did not dampen the hearts as Thornleigh took to the field with Tony Mugan and Barry Henderson bringing the average age of the team downwards. Thornleigh took an early lead when Rick Owen(former pupil and now staff member) made a telling break which was finished by match day captain Paul Fernside. The conversion drifted narrowly wide, and early indications suggested that the enthusiastic crowd should be in for a high scoring game, this could not have been further from the truth as neither team looked like scoring before the half time whistle due to some very ferocious tackling from both sides.
An injury to Shaun Casey, meant a reshuffle for Thornleigh and Old Boltonians responded well after the break, for a ten minute spell they camped inside the Thornleigh twenty two, only to be met by a barrage of gold and black shirts, with every Thornleigh player tackling at his best. Thornleigh eventually broke from this strangle hold and good interplay from the forwards led to Dominic Holden scoring the final and match winning try in the corner. Barry Henderson added the extra points. It was left to the Thornleigh pack to kill off the game and this they did with ease, to mark a welcome victory over the only two remaining schools in Bolton still playing rugby of either code on a regular basis.
Whilst the result was enjoyed by all the Thornleigh players the real thrill was meeting players on the park and friends off the pitch in the bar, some who had not seen each other for many a year. The day was a success for the new Thornleigh Former Pupils Association and if our bodies recover in time perhaps we can play again in about twelve months’ time!