It was more late drama at Twist Lane as Miners secured a last-second victory over Egremont.
Twist Lane reaffirmed its reputation as the place for late drama as Miners snatched last gasp victory from the jaws of defeat for the third time in four home league matches this season. High-flying Egremont shared the fate of Siddal and Skirlaugh and whilst everyone connected with Miners might wish for the odd forty or fifty point cakewalk to soothe the nerves, there can be no doubt that for the neutral WN7 is the number one venue for heart-stopping twists and turns in 2013. Equally there shouldn’t be any doubt that Miners deserved their success thanks in no small part to a tremendous second half fightback when they had Egremont on the ropes and then rode the sucker-punch to claim victory with Sean McDonald’s last minute try.
Miners were strengthened with the return of Darryl Kay and Danny Jones although Liam Coleman was unavailable, Tony Doyle coming in for his first first team game since his terrible injury in the interim campaign. Egremont, in fine form since their return to the top flight and with memories of their Gillfoot Park victory over Miners earlier in the season relatively fresh in the memory, were able to recall talisman JP Brocklebank to the side at loose forward.
On the warmest day of the season so far, Miners opened brightly although their first score owed a small amount to Egremont as Brocklebank floated out an intercept pass as the Cumbrians pressed the Leigh side’s line. However from there it was all Andrew Groves’ own work as the winger snapped up the ball, sprinted away from his opposite number down the touchline and then filleted fullback Jack Stainton on the inside to score a sensational solo effort, Jonny Youds goaling. On the other flank Andrew Hodson wasn’t about to be outshone and he extended Miners’ lead after McDonald supplied him with the scoring pass at the corner to put Miners 10-0 ahead. However Egremont began to get to grips with proceedings and they soon gave their sizeable travelling support something to cheer as the outstanding Leon Crellin burst down the right with Dale Horn continuing the break and Brocklebank finishing it off as he scrambled over the line despite the trysaving attempt by Youds. Just moments later and big prop Richard Farrer was too strong from ten metres out as the Cumbrians cranked up the pressure to go ahead, and when Egremont won a scrum near the Miners line and Paul Corkhill put Pete Bewsher over the line a ten point lead had become an eight point deficit in the space of ten minutes.
Miners hadn’t played poorly by any means in the first half despite finding themselves in arrears but they were to control the second half from the outset. Thomason put Groves in at the corner for his second of the game to ignite the fightback and the home side regained the lead when Scott O’Brien put Thomason crashing over for a deserved score, Youds temporarily silencing the Egremont fans with his conversion under their noses on the touchline to nudge Miners 20-18 ahead. The Cumbrians were picking up injuries as Dan Telford, Brocklebank and James McDonald all sustained knocks – the latter appearing the most significant – and they appeared to be running out of steam as Miners forced the issue. The Leigh side extended their advantage further when Danny Jackson stormed down the left and popped the pass out for O’Brien to twist his way over and 26-18 with ten minutes remaining. But out of nothing Egremont had a lifeline as Corkhill sliced through from close range and then with just two minutes to go a piece of champagne rugby sent the visiting hordes into delirium as their favourites played some magnificent expansive stuff, Crellin putting Horn away from inside the Miners’ half and the winger seeing off the defence to dive over at the flag. It was heartbreak for Miners and a defeat would have been impossible to stomach after their efforts, but there was one last twist. The restart was spiralled high and short and although Pete Bewsher defused it expertly he inexplicably headed for the touchline and was helped on his way over the whitewash by a posse of Miners’ defenders. Bewsher compounded his folly by sparking a melee which ended with the Egremont back rower and Miners’ O’Brien both being dismissed and the Leigh side having the penalty and a last chance to snatch victory. They didn’t let it get away as Doyle and Jackson combined to put McDonald striding through from fifteen metres out to seal another remarkable victory.
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