Miners went down to a comprehensive defeat at the hands of impressive Wests. After an evenly-contested first half, the visitors dominated the second period to record their first win at Twist Lane since their all-conquering days of the late 1990s and very early 2000s and leave Miners languishing in the lower reaches of the table. Whether it was a case of Wests returning to some semblance of the form that won them five league titles, Miners being utterly indifferent or – most likely – somewhere in between, this was a discouraging day for the home side who will look to regroup during the fortnight’s break from league action before another punishing run of fixtures continues at Siddal.
Miners were without Dave Rowlands and Kevin Howells from the previous weekend but welcomed back Danny Jones and Luke Murfin whilst handing a debut to new signing Semisi Cocker. Wests have recruited well in recent weeks but two of their trio of big-name signings were missing, in the form of Scott Spaven and Alex Benson, Brett Turner though proved more than sufficient on his own in the halves whilst Aiden Morton stepped up well as starting prop.
Oddly the first quarter was arguably Miners’ best showing of the season so far as they scored three tries to lead 12-6. They seized control inside five minutes as Scott O’Brien kicked high to the left flank – a fruitful area for the home side in this opening period – and Jonny Youds soared superbly between two defenders then exceeded himself as he slipped the pass out for Andrew Hodson to sneak over at the corner. Wests responded almost immediately though as their two stand-out performers combined, Turner with a peach of a pass and Morton in support to charge over the line from ten metres out, Sam Watson goaling to put his side ahead. Just as swiftly Miners were back in front again, once more the kick to the left wing proving Wests’ undoing and this time Youds finished business himself, gathering the ball and diving through a gap to touch down. By the end of the first quarter Miners appeared in command with a third try, this time O’Brien’s chip kick causing the problems as a Wests’ player inexplicably kicked the ball back into the hands of Tom Farrimond who spread play left for Youds to score his second.
All had been rosy in Miners’ garden to this point but things began to go awry when Wests hauled themselves back into contention, Turner almost wriggling through but held agonisingly short but Wests not to be denied for long as the ball was moved quickly left along the line and Luke Foster dived in at the corner. The game was evenly poised with Cocker rising from the bench and coming up with some strong drives whilst Turner’s crafty kicking game was always dangerous for Wests, and the visitors regained the lead three minutes before the break, Turner and halfback partner Jordan Lee putting Ryan Morrow charging through beside the posts, Watson goaling for 14-12. Indeed it could have been worse for the home side as they were hanging on at the break, Turner with the exquisite kick into space down the right and Watson winning the race but his inside pass to Jimmy Walker bounced awkwardly, bamboozling the centre and allowing Miners to mop up the danger.
After a first half with plenty of promise Miners had a platform to build on in the second half but their handling was at times frantic in the opening stages as they chased the game as though there were four minutes remaining, not forty. At the same time the fundamentals of defence were being neglected and Wests capitalised as substitute Danny Bloom sold a dummy and then cut through to score from twenty metres out, Watson goaling for an eight point lead. Miners tried to battle back and had spells of promising possession but without respecting the ball and Wests subsequently blitzed them with three tries in fifteen minutes. The first came with a tapped penalty on half way, Morton storming through a huge gap to score under the posts. Liam Coleman tried to respond with some positive play but Miners were alternating knock-ons with penalties and on the hour came the killer, Morton again doing his impression of Moses as he parted the black-and-amber sea from half way and fed Turner for a deserved score. It was going from bad to worse for Miners and even their attacking opportunities almost led to tries at the other end as Miners lost the ball from their own attacking scrum ten metres from the Wests line and the ball hoofed downfield where Youds just won the race ahead of Tom Radley to concede a drop-out. Radley wasn’t to be denied ten minutes from time though as he scored at the corner and Wests were now eyeing a scoreline to top their forty point win here in 2001-2 but Miners had the last word as Coleman broke up the middle and O’Brien supported to score a scant consolation for the well-beaten team.
Miners – Jimmy Muir, Ryan Monaghan, Shaun McDonald, Jonny Youds, Andrew Hodson, Steven Marsh, Scott O’Brien, Danny Jackson, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Adam Thomason, Liam Coleman, Todd Appleby Subs – Joe Harrison, Danny Jones, Luke Murfin, Semisi Cocker
Tries – Hodson (4), Youds (11, 17), O’Brien (78)
Goal – Youds
MoM – Tom Farrimond
Wests – Matt Plummer, Sam Watson, Jimmy Walker, Danny Swales, Luke Foster, Brett Turner, Jordan Lee, Aaron Higginbotham, Aaron Spaven, Aiden Morton, James Jackson, Dean Thompson, Ryan Morrow Subs – Danny Bloom, Josh Hart, Tom Radley, Paul Shaw
Tries – Morton (9, 54), Foster (23), Morrow (37), Bloom (47), Turner (61), Radley (69)
Goals – Watson 2, Hart 2
MoM – Brett Turner
Referee – John McMullen