Miners Rangers booked their place in the Final Eliminator, and a trip to West Hull, with this thrill-a-minute win over Conference Trophy holders Mayfield. Mid autumn sunshine and the biggest crowd of the Twist Lane season witnessed unquestionably the best match of the season at Miners as both teams gave their all in a match of twists and turns right to the closing stages.
With their fortnight’s break Miners welcomed Mitch Cox back from his travels with Tom Farrimond also returning whilst Mayfield arrived on a tide of emotion following that dramatic cup final win and more profoundly by the tragic recent passing of club stalwart Steve Gartland. The visitors, backed by a boisterous travelling support including bass drum and vuvuzela accompaniments, roared out of the blocks as they dominated the early stages and notched two early scores, first through Sean Watkins, scorer of that late cup winner the previous weekend, as he went in on the overlap on the right and then when lively winger Munya Semanyanga nipped in to finish well at the same corner. Miners were toiling in the face of the relentless Mayfield pressure but gradually clawed their way back into the game with a try from nothing, Mayfield initially breaking downfield as a Miners’ attack came to naught but as they lost the ball Will Ashworth scooped it in and sprinted clear through the scattered ranks of both sides to score under the posts, Jonny Youds converting. That try turned the game on its head and within five minutes Miners were in again with a sumptuous score, breaking from inside their own half down the right flank with Todd Fenlon tipping the ball back inside to Youds and then in turn Rob Crompton to finish off a memorable try, Youds again goaling. A further Youds penalty for an off-the-ball challenge had Miners six points clear but right on half time the momentum shifted once again as Declan Sheridan, an impish presence for Mayfield at hooker, dummied and darted over the line, Chris Hough critically missing with the conversion attempt.
The opening stages of the second half were tight and tense before Miners again appeared to take control as Youds’ kick to the right was fumbled by the Mayfield defence in their own in-goal and Crompton benefited for the easiest of tries, Youds again goaling. But straight from the restart Mayfield were back within two points as they regained the kick-off and from the attacking position Sheridan forced his way over the line for his second try, Hough goaling and then adding a penalty to level matters with fifteen minutes remaining. Once again Miners struck back, Jordan Hellam diving over the line from acting half and Youds goaling, but Mayfield were back within two points as they attacked down the right and Watkins was in for his second try. With two points separating the sides Miners held firm in defence and with the last play of the game they confirmed the win, Mayfield losing possession as they tried to clear their lines and the ball popping into the hands of Mark Nicholson to stride over the line and extend Miners’ season for another week at least.
Miners – Jonny Youds, Will Ashworth, Joe Digby, Rob Crompton, Todd Fenlon, Jimmy Muir, Scott O’Brien, Chris Bower, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Mark Nicholson, Mitch Cox, Martin Gray Subs – Jordan Hellam, Matt Astley, Mick O’Boyle, Andrew Groves
Tries – Ashworth (27), Crompton (32, 57), Hellam (70), Nicholson (80)
Goals – Youds 6
MoM – Jonny Youds
Mayfield – Lewis Sheridan, Munya Semanyanga, Rhys Carruth, Matt Calland, James Shaw, Paul Brearley, Zac Baker, Aiden Gleeson, Callum Ogden, Simon Moore, Sean Watkins, Callum Marriott, Chris Hough Subs – Declan Sheridan, Matt Ashton, Seta Tala, Liam Whalley
Tries – Watkins (9, 75), Semanyanga (17), D Sheridan (39, 59)
Goals – Hough 2
MoM – Lewis Sheridan
Referee – Matt Rossleigh