THE Lancashire RFU Junior Rugby Challenge has been a happy tournament for Bolton’s Under-15s this season, but they fell at the final hurdle with a 51-21 defeat to Vale of Lune.

Bolton had gone through the group stage undefeated, and beat Rossendale in the knockout phase to reach their second cup final in consecutive years.

Visitors Vale of Lune made the trip down from Lancaster with a similarly impressive record, albeit from a higher division, and were keen to take silverware back up the M6.

A fine game of rugby saw both sides playing hard and fast in front of a bumper Avenue Street crowd.

Bolton started nervously and made some unforced errors which Vale took advantage of in a clinical fashion to establish a 19-0 lead in the first quarter of an hour, which did not reflect the balance of possession or effort.

It was the never-say-die spirit of Bolton that saw them claw their way back into contention when Emmanuel Gospel, the scorer of four tries in the semi-final, took the ball deep in his own half and raced away to touch down. Captain Ben Price converted.

The early pace was breathtaking and Vale restored and extended the margin with two quick tries, before Bolton’s top scorer Leon Hodson touched over on the stroke of half time.

Bolton may have been in the ascendancy before the break, but it was Vale that started the second period the brighter, scoring four quick tries to put paid to any hopes the hosts had of a comeback.

There was, however, still time for Gospel to get his brace with a great solo run after good work from Cameron Milton and Harry McDermott.

Though the trophy deservedly went to Vale of Lune, Bolton gave a good account of themselves in a performance which bodes well for next season, their last in junior rugby, in which they will be playing in a higher league following their promotion.

Bolton’s u8s competed in the annual Vale of Lune Festival and were entered into the group with some tough opposition, from all over the North-West of England.

Their first opponents were Firwood Waterloo and Bolton were too strong, winning by seven tries to their gritty opposition’s three.

Saxon Youngman scored four tries, Tristen Jones two and Finn Davies the other.

The second game was against local rivals Tyldesley, who held Bolton to a 4-4 draw. Davies and Youngman were again on the scoresheet with two tries apiece, while Jacob Powell was busy organising the defensive line.

The third game was against Kendal and, with Jones scoring four times and Ike Edwards and Davies also crossing, Bolton chalked up a 6-3 victory.

Bolton then played Blackburn and came out 6-5 winners. Tries by Edwards, Jacob Howell, Davies, Youngman and Jack McLaughlin (two) sealed the victory.

Bolton lost their next game, a hard-fought affair against Preston Grasshoppers 5-3, Youngman (two) and Jones scoring their tries and Holly Turner and McLaughlin doing sterling work to keep ‘Hoppers at bay.

And Bolton ended the day with a 7-6 defeat to the host team.

Youngman went over for three tries – one created by the pass of the tournament from Freddie Forrest – and Jones scored another two, with Davies making it six tries to take their competition total to an excellent 32 in six games.