Aspatria eased immediate relegation concerns, with an important 26-20 win against Bolton at Bower Park.

The hard-earned win lifted the Black Reds out of the drop zone but with the bottom seven clubs separated by only eight points there is still work to be done.

Despite conceding a 16 point half-time advantage to the hosts the visitor’s launched a comeback that looked very likely to burst the home side’s bubble. Only a tremendous rearguard action saved Aspatria’s day.

By the 11th minute, two penalties from Jack Clegg had edged Aspatria into a 6-0 lead.

Bolton came back well and their forwards went through a series of pick-and-go phases to eventually maul the ball over the line for an unconverted try.

On 21 minutes, Bolton took the lead after regaining possession from a drop-out. They moved upfield and scored at the left-corner flag.

A third Clegg penalty closed the gap, and on 29 minutes his fourth of the day restored the lead.

This proved a turning point with Aspatria moving into a dominant position, aided by a yellow card for a Bolton prop due to persistent infringements.

The first of Aspatria’s tries followed a burst through the defence by hooker James Ravell, who had great support from stand-off Josh Watson and No8 Matthew Atkinson.

The initial surge was handled effectively by the Bolton defence, but they had no answer when back-row Jacques Rowe came onto the ball at sufficient pace to break the line and go under the sticks.

With the final move of the first half Aspatria registered a second score which owed much to some precision passing across the field.

The ball found its way to the right flank where Alex Barton left his marker for dead to scamper over at the corner flag. Clegg’s conversion was good for a 26-10 interval lead.

At the start of the second half Bolton immediately moved into attack mode. A maul took them over the line but the ball was deemed held up.

The escape was only momentary. From a five-metre scrum, at the start of the second half, Bolton managed to win the ball against the head and push Aspatria across the line to dot down.

In response Aspatria generated a handful of attacking foray’s but none proved successful and the balance of play swung in Bolton’s direction.

With the bulk of play now in the home half, the Black Reds were forced to dig deep. They passed the test, frustrating everything Bolton could throw at them.

On the hour, Bolton took a practical line and closed the gap to six points with a penalty. The visitors, within a converted try of taking victory, must have sensed that this would be their day.

They were about to be disappointed by a ruthless Aspatria defence that repulsed attack after attack. The home side lost Rowe on 72 minutes to a yellow card but his absence only seemed to increase the intensity of Aspatria’s tackling machine.

Bolton came close to a critical score but as the minutes ticked but ultimately fell short.