BOLTON’S under-14s were on cloud nine after chalking up a first win of the campaign after eight successive defeats, beating Widnes 17-12.

And they did it against the odds – a combination of illness and injury reducing the squad from 30-plus to just 17 players at the start.

Widnes, who comfortably beat Bolton last year, also had absence issues and had a bare 15 players.

The opening 10 minutes saw both teams competing well but a slippery ball led to numerous handling errors and a lot of slips by players not picking footwear suitable to the wet conditions.

It was were even in terms of possession, though territoriality Widnes held sway with the wind at their backs.

A Widnes scrum saw the ball carried down the blind side but scrum-half Jack Good dislodged the ball and Josh Nicholson scooped it up and cantered in from 80 metres.

With only a couple of minutes left on the clock Widnes eventually broke through a previously solid Bolton back line to make it 5-5 at the break.

The second half was a reverse of the first, with Bolton camped in the Widnes half.

A Bolton scrum saw number eight Evan Dare pick and go and he simply battered his way through the Widnes defence to run behind the posts for a simple conversion chance which was taken.

Dare decided to put in a repeat and crossed again after picking the ball up from a ruck.

From the kick off a spilled ball saw a Widnes scrum on the Bolton 10-metre line, they won the ball and a dinky run saw them close the score to 17-12.

With less than five minutes left the result could have gone either way but the two sides cancelled each other out.

It was a cracking game overall, played in a superb spirit and well refereed.

Every single Bolton player stepped up a level and many had their best game of the season, including man-of-the-match Dare.