Leigh Miners Rangers had an afternoon to forget in their NCL Premier Division opener as a rampant Kells side ran riot at Twist Lane to record a 56-12 success. A new-look and youthful Miners side will look to regroup and with an always-testing trip to Thatto Heath Crusaders to come this weekend that response will need to be swift. Whilst Miners were given the runaround nothing should be taken away from Kells who were utterly ruthless once they got into their stride, 22-0 up inside twenty minutes and then after Miners had hinted at a recovery before half time the Cumbrians dispelled any notion of a comeback with two more tries in five minutes after the break.
After Miners had started brightly the flow of the game was dictated as Kells notched the opening points through Dominic Wear and thereafter the points deluge began with some slick rugby to open the defence, Reece O’Neill profiting from a finely-worked move down the right before Brad Smith wrestled his way over from acting half. When Ryan Watson broke clear on half way and stormed away to score the game was all but settled inside the first quarter, although with Darryl Kay tireless as ever and good support from Mark Nicholson, Mark Thomas and giant prop Andy Philbin, Miners stemmed the flow towards the interval and earned the vaguest hint of a lifeline when Philbin scored a fine debut try for the club, surging his way past five defenders and showing great strength to crash over the line and touch down. Jonny Youds converted and had Miners managed to score first after the interval then possibly the comeback might have been on. As it was though Kells scored twice more to re-emphasis their grip on the game with veteran Scott Lofthouse breaking clear and holding off the defence in a 30m run for the line before Reece O’Neill capitalised on a Ross Gainford bomb to sneak in at the corner.
Miners themselves scored from a kick as Jack Reynolds was on hand after Tom Maloney’s kick bounced off a Kells’ body and back to the Miners’ man to touch down but Kells made the scoreline an utterly emphatic one with more tries in the closing stages for Smith, Wear, Reece O’Neill and brother Martin O’Neill.
Andy Philbin was named Miners’ man of the match with Darryl Kay and Mark Nicholson also highlighted.
The Alliance team lost 18-0 in the cup at Simms Cross whilst the under-18s saw their game at Oldham St Annes postponed.
This Saturday the first team travel to Thatto whilst the Alliance entertain Bamber Bridge (2.30pm). On Sunday the women’s team get their season under way with a home game against Barrow Island (2pm).