IF Sunday’s Senior Colts match between Bolton and Vale of Lune had been a boxing match Bolton may well have got the verdict at home to Vale of Lune.

Instead, it was a game of rugby and by scoring 25 points to the hosts’ 20 the visitors took the spoils.

On a crisp and sunny afternoon the match took a while to get up to speed as both teams got the festive period out of their systems.

Bolton had the better of the early exchanges and James Evans opened the scoring with a penalty following a charge downfield by Matt Moore.

To their credit Vale bounced back quickly and when the Bolton back three were unable to deal with a cross kick an awkward bounce allowed the visitors to hack upfield, regather and score.

Although Joe McHugh and skipper Tom Crook were making good yards down the middle of the pitch for Bolton, they were unable to take advantage of much better field position as little errors and good defence prevented them adding to their score.

Morgan Caldwell did get the ball over the line, but was deemed to have made a double movement.

A couple of penalties later Vale had moved the length of the pitch, and as the home team failed to take several opportunities to deal with a rolling ball they crossed for another try.

This period of play summed up Bolton’s season to date. A lack of awareness and a failure to spot opportunities in attack and threats in defence has been their undoing in a lot of their matches this season and it was to prove costly again.

Vale finished the half with another penalty to lead 15-3 at the break but there was no despondency in the Bolton camp as they knew they were still very much in the contest.

The second half continued in much the same vein as the first with Bolton having the better possession and position, but lacking penetration near the visitors’ line.

Max Holcroft was making good yards from the base of the scrum and it was fitting he should crash over for the hosts’ first try after a concerted period of pressure and patient driving near to the Vale line.

After Vale responded with a penalty they won a quick turnover in their own half and with the home defence over-committed some well-timed passes allowed them to score under the posts.

With time running out Bolton continued to put phases of play together and good hands put Jack Philips over in the corner, but Vale hit back with another penalty to extend their lead.

There was still time for Caldwell to cap an excellent performance with a typical kick-and-chase score, but time ran out for Bolton.

By all subjective measures Bolton had the better of the contest, but came off second best on the scoreboard.

They will look back on another game that got away, knowing they are improving but have yet to develop the necessary killer instinct.