Miners slumped to defeat as bottom side Acorn threw the relegation battle even more wide open.
Miners suffered a third league defeat on the bounce as the euphoria of the previous weekend’s Conference Cup semi-final win was swiftly forgotten. In dreary and rainy conditions and an atmosphere far-removed from the Saturday before, Miners could have few excuses as they were out-fought and out-enthused by a spirited Acorn side, the victory – a first on the road for the York side in 2013 – throwing the relegation battle even more wide open.
In mitigation of sorts, Miners had been forced to make changes with only one of their starting 1-6 being a first team regular playing in their regular position, and that told with some disjointed attacking play during a first half when Miners had plenty of opportunities to put the game to bed. The Leigh side made the perfect start as some fine flowing rugby down the right saw Scott O’Brien and Jonny Youds set up teenager Jake Waterworth, and from thirty metres out the youngster ensured that his first touch of open age rugby brought a try inside the first minute. Darryl Kay and Gary Gittins continued to make yards and create openings but the best of these saw Tom Farrimond unable to take Gittins’ offload, and Acorn responded on their first attack as Antony Chilton took advantage of the greasy conditions and angled a bobbling kick which ran teasingly away from Waterworth but sat up kindly for Arran Thompson to gather and score at the corner to reduce the gap to 6-4. Miners continued to enjoy the better of the possession and territory but they couldn’t find a way through as some tenacious defending and poor execution conspired to deny them. Acorn showed them how it was done just before the break when Joe Porter smashed through from twenty metres out and stormed to the line, Chilton goaling, but right on the interval Miners were level when Jimmy Muir burrowed his way through from acting half and 10-10.
It had been disappointing stuff from Miners in the first half but the second period initially promised more as Tony Doyle broke the line on an angled run to the corner flag but his extravagant attempted backhand offload went to ground and Acorn survived when they should have been lining up behind their sticks. Reprieved, the visitors set about bossing much of the play with their hard-running pack making good ground. Lively Harry Bromwich broke through but his offload to Porter couldn’t be taken, then veteran prop Davey Burns also found an inch of space but again his offload this time to Tom Hill only resulted in a knock-on with the line open. Instead Miners made the breakthrough fifteen minutes from time when O’Brien and Youds linked up again for Jonny Carroll to slide in at the left corner. Four points was a nervy margin though and with six minutes remaining Acorn regained the lead, a brief stoppage as Youds received treatment perhaps rattling Miners’ defensive composure as from the next play Burns again broke and this time the offload was taken cleanly by Leigh Rientoul to slice in for the six-pointer. Miners had to chase the game but their handling was conspiring against them and with the final play Acorn underlined the victory, Muir losing the ball in an attempted breakaway on half way and Ryan Gallacher was swiftly onto it before putting Rientoul away from forty metres out to finish things off.