BOLTON Rugby Club’s Under-15s defied the odds to book their place in the Development Cup final at Rossendale’s expense.

The youngsters from Avenue Street went into the semi-final as underdogs, short as they were of several key players and facing higher-league opposition in the form of a well-drilled Rossendale unit.

Rossendale went over for their first try in the opening minute of the match, meaning Bolton were up against it but they stood firm in the face of their opponents’ onslaught and began to work themselves back into the game.

With 10 minutes on the clock, Bolton scored through the quick feet of Emmanuel Gospel, making an impressive debut on the wing. Leon Hodson converted to draw Bolton level.

As a hard-fought half drew to a close, Rossendale were awarded a penalty in a promising position deep in the Bolton half but chose to go for the posts, and missed, squandering the chance to take the lead.

Just three minutes into the second half, Gospel once again received the ball and used his power and skill to storm away and score a fine individual try.

Hodson again converted to put the home team seven points ahead. This gave Bolton a huge boost and it was only two minutes later when Gospel achieved his hat-trick on his debut, again converted by Hodson, who was having a good day with the boot.

Bolton were proving strong in the defence, with Ben Malevialle playing in an unfamiliar role at prop, and Jack DeMullet at second row. Harry McDermott, playing in various roles as dictated by the injuries, was outstanding, and Hodson supplemented a solid kicking game with great tackling and support work in attack.

Rossendale, were bruised but not beaten and they pulled a try back halfway through the second period in an attempt to get back into the game. Not to be outdone, Gospel scored a fourth try – and sealed a nightmare for the Rossendale man trying in vain to mark him – to put Bolton back within sight of the final.

A frantic last 10 minutes then ensued with two Rossendale tries sandwiching an Oliver Keogh score for Bolton.

As Rossendale pressed in the final minute, Keogh pounced again, running in after an interception for his second try to make the final score 36-24 and sealing Bolton’s place in the final after a superb all-round team performance.