Leigh Miners Rangers Reserve side travel to Golborne Parkside on Saturday to take on Rochdale Mayfield in the NWML Trophy Final.
The two teams have already met twice this season in league fixtures with the Miners running out narrow winners on both occasions. Both games were tough and uncompromising and Saturday’s encounter promises to be the same.
Rochdale are currently languishing in the lower half of the table however this is not a true reflection of the style and uncompromising rugby they play. With no chance of winning the league title this year Saturday’s final offers Rochdale an excellent opportunity to finish the season with at least a piece of silverware for their efforts.
In contrast Miners are currently on top of the NWML with their destiny in their own hands. If Miners win all of their remaining 8 games they will be crowned champions however with difficult away trips to Rylands, Portico, Latchford, Accrington and arch rivals Wigan St Patricks finishing on top will take a superhuman effort from the current squad. Miners’ main title rivals, St Pats, have a much easier run in having already done the hard work away from home which included a 16 – 46 mauling of Miners at Twist Lane; a result that was reversed in the semi-final with Miners running out 30-10 winners in another tough match.
Miners were dealt a cruel injury blow earlier in the week when in-form centre Darryl Flannery was ruled out of the game after a freak training ground accident. Stand out player Joe Harrison will also be missing preferring a quiet week away in Ibizia with his mates.
On the back of an excellent weeks preparation Miners will enter the final in good form having a near full strength squad to choose from. Team selection has not been easy for the coaches with several members of the squad unlucky to be left out having performed well all season.
The ever improving Matt Rozman will play at fullback with Dave Wood and Sam Shepherd occupying the wing berths, the latter being responsible for goal kicking duties.
Try machine Scott Travis and the solid Gareth Paine will play in the centres with Gary Fitzmartin and Tony Doyle at halfbacks tasked with guiding the team around the field.
Up front powerhouses Lee Pugsley and recent international representative Darryl Appleby will be looking to provide the go forward with Mick Charles and Adam Teece looking to attack on the fringes. Todd Appleby will play at Loose Forward to form an impressive but mobile pack.
The subs bench will be occupied by utility players Jack Charles and Scott Pugsley with Ryan Blakeley and the experienced former first team front rower Kevin Howells also ready to make an impact from the bench.
Nothing will be taken for granted come Saturday afternoon and a tough game is fully expected. The conditions should allow for good, open rugby however Miners will have to deal with Rochdale’s big pack of forwards if they are too have any chance of lifting the inaugural NWML Trophy.