AN IMPRESSIVE display of pack power and sterling defensive work saw Bolton to a 17-12 victory at home to Oldham.

But the Cherry and Whites were made to graft for their victory, particularly in a final 10-minute stint spent almost entirely in their own 22.

Their forwards out-muscled the visitors – who are known for relying on their size and strength – and although Bolton do not move from ninth spot in the North Lancs/Cumbria table, it means they head for the division’s bottom side, Littleborough, in good form and in high spirits.

“It was a nervous and nailbiting last 10 minutes for many but I was always confident we could hold out, not that the celebrations weren’t ebullient though,” revealed head coach Dave Crouch.

“They couldn’t cope with our power and the defending was very good too. They had one scrum that started five metres from our line and it ended up back outside the 22.

“I had said to the players before the game that I wanted to have 15 man-of-the-matches, and they responded, they really stood up up front in the forwards and the backs were excellent too.

“We deserved it, that’s the important thing. In the last two or three games we have got better and better.

“They are working very hard in training, trying to improve individually and as a team and that is showing in matches.

“It’s always sweeter winning when you’ve really put a shift in too.”

Marshalled by man-of-the-match Gaz Pritchard, Bolton had dominated the early exchanges at Avenue Street, leading 3-0 from a Chris Brownlow penalty.

But, although the home team’s pack were winning the scrums, once Oldham came into the game they began to wheel the scrums without being penalised, and they took the lead through Rob Froggatt’s unconverted try midway through the half.

It was Bolton who would turn around three points to the good, though.

Rhys Pritchard was the architect of their first try, avoiding several tackles before offloading for Owen McKenna to go in under the posts.

Brownlow’s conversion made it 10-7 at the break.

Centre Brownlow, in only his second first-team appearance, would also score all seven of Bolton’s second-half points, charging through 15 minutes after the restart and converting himself.

Oldham did reduce the gap to five points when John Souter scored a try to set up a thrilling finish.

But Bolton held out to collect the points that see them head for Littleborough aiming to make it three out of three in 2018.

“Rhys was superb for our first try, he cut through and beat two or three men,” added Crouch. “He offloaded to Owen but there were plenty in support, which is all part ofd what we’re trying to do.

“Chris’ try was mercurial too, he has slotted in really well. He was a bit nervous in his first game but he reads defences well and his running angles are excellent.

“It’s a shame we won’t have him this weekend because he’s away on a Gaelic football coaching course.

“We have eight games to go, some tough, some not-so tough but things are going well so we’ll see where we can get to.”