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Leigh Miners Rangers 32 Ince Rose Bridge 12

Jun 23 • Senior Club News, Uncategorised • 1376 Views • Comments Off on Leigh Miners Rangers 32 Ince Rose Bridge 12

Miners ground out a priceless derby victory in a tense game.

It is a measure of the progress Miners have made in recent times that this twenty point margin of victory was greeted almost with a sense of disappointment, but regardless of the quality or otherwise of the display this was a hugely welcome two points which extended the home side’s good run of form at Twist Lane and put them within striking distance of the top six. But with lengthy injury stoppages pockmarking the game and scarcely helping the flow of proceedings it was a match which lacked the exuberance of the previous weekend’s win over East Hull. Perhaps derby tensions and league positions also had a role to play, as well as the resilience of an injury-blitzed and out-of-form Bridge side battling to claw their way from the relegation zone.
Miners were without Danny Jackson for this game, Chris Slater coming in on the bench and Martin Gray at second-row. Bridge, on a crippling run of away fixtures but at least remaining within the borough boundaries for this weekend, were without ex-Miner Darryl Appleby or Kieran Eccleston but had international loose-forward Kenny Baker in the side.
It was a tense opening to the game with Bridge enjoying decent spells of possession but Miners, who lost Sean McDonald to injury after the very first tackle of the game, made the breakthrough when Adam Thomason dribbled a grubber kick into the in-goal and Scott O’Brien just managed to get to the ball and ground it before it bobbled dead. Another kick saw Miners extend their lead, this time the ball flighted into the air and Jonny Youds soaring to pluck it from the sky and touch down all in one motion beside the posts, adding the extras himself.
After a staid opening the game then briefly sprang into life as the sides traded chances in a frantic passage of play. First Miners appeared certain to score, O’Brien’s bomb to the right wing horribly misjudged by Joe English and falling kindly for John Woods to gather, but with Miners already celebrating the try the winger slipped and lost the ball. Bridge stormed down the other end and this time it was a kick by Chris Boylan bouncing high over the defender and gathered by Robbie Valentine but his attempted offload was snapped up by Liam Coleman. Now it was Miners on the attack again and Slater held up over the whitewash as he drove for the line, and a madcap five minutes ended with Valentine just denied at the other end, chasing his own kick through which was just palmed dead by Youds. The half did have one more try though and it came the way of the home side, Coleman breaking down the right and the ball moved swiftly for Thomason to somehow force his way through the defenders and touch down, Youds goaling for 16-0.
Miners had been comfortable enough in the first half but they were jolted from their reverie as Bridge scored inside the first six minutes of the second half, Baker breaking through from close to the line and offloading for Michael Houghton to finish off, Boylan converting. Immediately Miners reasserted their lead though with a fine solo effort, O’Brien accelerating through from half way, cutting inside the fullback and then hitting the gas again to go clear of the chasing defence and score beside the posts, Youds converting. Bridge wouldn’t go away though and on the hour they cut the gap to ten points, winning a penalty near the line and Houghton again with the strength to finish from close range. These were tense times with both sides sensing they could yet win the points, and a pivotal moment came when Jamie Malone regathered Connor Matthews’ kick after it cannoned off a Miners’ player, but with open field in front of him he was felled by a desperate O’Brien ankle-tap and lost the ball as he hit the turf. Still Bridge stormed forward and Houghton was held up over the line as he searched for his hat-trick, but with ten minutes remaining Miners ensured the victory as they probed down the right channel then whipped the ball swiftly left where Jimmy Muir arced his way through from twenty metres out. With the final play Miners iced the cake, O’Brien with a deserved hat-trick as he sliced between two tiring defenders and wrestled through the fullback to score beside the posts, Steven Marsh taking the kicking duties on from the injured Youds to wrap up the scoring.
Miners – Jonny Youds, Jimmy Muir, Sean McDonald, Adam Thomason, John Woods, Steven Marsh, Scott O’Brien, Gary Gittins, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Liam Coleman, Martin Gray, Danny Jones Subs Tony Doyle, Jonny Carroll, Chris Slater, Luke Murfin
Bridge – Robbie Valentine, Joe English, Craig Sanby, Jamie Malone, Ryan Eccleston, Connor Matthews, Chris Boylan, Ritchie Shaw, Matthew Meaden, David Hoctor, Michael Houghton, Kieron Malone, Kenny Baker Subs Jordan Heaton, Nathan Docherty, Jimmy Highton, Ben Tootill

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