Miners Rangers emerged from a thrilling match against old rivals Pilkingtons with a hard-fought and valuable victory as they closed the gap on leaders Siddal to just two points. In an enthralling contest which ebbed and flowed throughout a youthful Miners side with four under-18s playing critical roles held off a strong start and finish from Pilks to secure the spoils. The visitors opened strongly as they bid to complete a league double over Miners and they deservedly opened the scoring when Danny Filson finished well at the corner but Miners held firm and took a lead they were never to relinquish when Andrew Groves proved too elusive from ten metres out, slipping between the tacklers and touching down for a try goaled by Ian Mort. Young winger Robert Crompton then finished off well for a fine try to extend the home side’s lead before the introduction of Matty Pendlebury for his debut changed the balance of the game, the stand-off first producing a sublime ball to put another of the under-18s Joe Digby charging through a gap to the line and then going over himself with some neat footwork and an eye for the gap to open a commanding 22-8 lead by the break as Pilks’ other try came from Andy Nisbet.
Despite that healthy advantage Miners knew Pilks would come out strongly in the second half and for much of the third quarter the game became an arm-wrestle. Pilks improvised a score with kicks back and forth across the pitch before Jake Hodgson jumped highest to claim the ball and score a six pointer but Miners restored their advantage with a trademark solo effort from Scott O’Brien. At 28-14 Miners appeared in command but Pilks rallied once again and two tries in the final quarter had the game in the balance once again, first an intercept for Greg Smith and then Ian Stanley as the game headed for a frantic finish. Miners finally wrapped things up with the final play, Darryl Kay kicking a spilled Pilks ball downfield into the in goal but then cruelly robbed of his try as Crompton beat him in the foot race to dot down for his second score under the posts.
The Alliance team reached the North West Trophy final for the second time in three seasons with a 54-34 win over Leyland Warriors. The women’s team ran into an outstanding Thatto Heath team in the Challenge Cup final at Odsal Stadium and went down 62-6 but had the consolation of scoring the try of the match as Georgia Sutherland produced a 90 metre effort for a real champagne moment.