BURY Broncos coach Dave Kelly believes the final scoreline was not a fair reflection his side's brave display after they went down 34-14 at promotion chasers Manchester Rangers.

A sixth defeat of the campaign left the Broncos, who play their home games at Philips High School, down in seventh place in Division Two of the North West Men's League, with only eight points from 10 matches.

The side's dip in form has been largely down to a lack of players, and Kelly was once again forced to dip down into his reserves to field a side on Saturday.

They started the day with only four recognised backs and ended with just one on the field at full time following another raft of injuries.

But barring a wobble immediately after half time, when Rangers pulled away after going into the break trailing 8-6, there was very little to choose between the two sides.

Kelly said: "There were a lot of good performances. Debutant Jack Cooke showed tremendous potential, while centres Steve Critchley and George Stevenson were rock solid against dangerous opponents.

"Adam Grundy marshalled the team well, Blake Roberts put in some try-saving tackles, Danny Kelly stepped in at the last-minute to play half and Matt Fish ran hard all afternoon.

"For me, though, the two stand-out players were Martin Wilcock and Ross Smith who led from the front all afternoon.

"Despite picking out these performances, I would say this was a great team effort from all the 17 who took to the field.

"The scoreline did not reflect the closeness of the game.

"I would like to thank Matt Speak, Charlie Rhys Price and Callum Hulston, who all acted as cover, with Callum selected for his first-team debut after a late drop-out.

"Thanks must go to everyone who played and those who offered to. It has not been an easy week, but we have got through it and can look forward to next week with more confidence."

The squad that made the short trip to the Etihad Campus consisted mainly of second-team players. 

And it looked ominous when Rangers, who are fourth in the table, took an early 6-0  lead.

Yet the stand-in Broncos forwards took the game to Rangers and after some strong running from Martin Wilcock and Ross Smith, Matt Fish powered on to a short ball to crash over, with Roberts scoring the extras.

Broncos were more than holding their own as new signing Jack Cooke and Danny Kelly combined well, while Abdou Radwan looked a natural at full back and stand-in centres George Stevenson and Steve Critchley held their own against bigger, faster opponents.

The forward pack also dominated the tackle area, and they were rewarded with a penalty under the sticks, which Roberts converted.

Unfortunately, the Broncos lost one of their few genuine backs, Radwan, through a shoulder injury and it clearly unsettled them at the start of the second half.

Rangers began to find space on the outside and their dangerous backs showed what they were capable of, scoring four tries in the space of 15 minutes to race into a 30-8 lead.

Broncos went on to lose debutant Cooke, who was injured as he tried to score, but they regrouped to add a second try of the game.

Brendan Berry ran in a well-worked effort after loose forward Adam Grundy broke the line following a neat dummy runaround move with Martin Wilcock.

Roberts again converted before limping off after putting in a heroic last-ditch tackle and Rangers rounded off the scoring with an unconverted try.