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Leigh Miners Rangers 35 Thatto Heath Crusaders 22

Aug 28 • Senior Club News, Uncategorised • 1447 Views • Comments Off on Leigh Miners Rangers 35 Thatto Heath Crusaders 22

Leigh Miners Rangers moved two points clear at the top of the Premier Division with this hard-fought win over Thatto on a perfect late summer’s evening at Twist Lane. Two sides at opposite ends of the table served up an entertaining and fast-paced game and, with the scores at 26-22 with barely ten minutes remaining, Heath perhaps sensed an opportunity to repeat their last-gasp win of almost exactly two years previously. But instead a Jonny Youds penalty goal and a Jimmy Muir drop goal gave Miners a vital seven-point cushion and Connor Ratcliffe’s late try iced the cake for the Leigh side. Thatto are left with it all to do as they bid to avoid the drop and with Mick Ledger a tower of strength in the pack, the ageless Steve Woods exerting his influence from the bench and Sean Kenny and Sean Leicester lively they have the quality to yet pull off the escape, albeit time is starting to run out for them. For Miners it is all about grinding out the wins in a testing final month of the season and with Tom Farrimond, Chris Bower and Darryl Kay unsung heroes in the pack and Shaun Dowie and Muir forming a maverick pairing in the halves they look ahead to another derby, at Wigan St Pats, as the next test of their Premiership credentials.

Thatto, on a rich vein of form, opened the brighter and they claimed the first score when Kenny hoisted a kick to the wing and Louis Taylor climbed highest to pluck the ball from the air and dot it down, Leicester converting, but Miners responded when Farrimond showed quick thinking to dart from acting half fifteen metres out and dive over the line, Youds’ goal levelling matters. The home side took the lead when Andrew Groves showed great determination to wriggle through the tackles and stretch over the whitewash, Youds again adding the extras, and with Thatto beginning to unravel a little bit, Miners had another in quick succession when Tommy Parkinson dummied and stepped inside to go over for a try out wide and 16-6. The Crusaders had the last word of the half though as some slick play saw Kenny put Leicester cutting back on the angle to dive in for the score.

The teams were back on level pegging five minutes into the second half when Kenny was again on hand to put Liam Quinn riding the tackle and touching down for another six-pointer and now the game was in the balance again. Miners forged their way clear once again, first as Brad Hargreaves forced his way over the line at the left corner, then when Dowie took advantage of what was initially a wayward pass, the Australian improvising smartly to step his way through beside the posts and 26-16. Thatto were far from finished though and they were over again as Tom Tunstall finished well and Leicester’s conversion narrowed the gap to four points. Miners made it a six-point game when Youds landed a penalty for a swinging arm in the tackle and when Muir popped the drop goal over the clock and scoreboard were against Heath. In the closing minutes Muir’s short ball put Ratcliffe crashing his way through to score under the posts and round off a fine night’s work for Miners.

Gamestar – Chris Bower put in a monumental performance on what was a night when props on both sides stood out.

Gamebreaker – Jimmy Muir’s drop goal moved Miners two scores clear with time running out

Miners – Andrew Groves, Gareth Pain, Brad Hargreaves, Jonny Youds, Harry Gagen, Jimmy Muir, Shaun Dowie, Chris Bower, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Tommy Parkinson, Martin Gray, Connor Ratcliffe Subs – Danny Jones, Charles Tyson, Connor Partington, Matt Astley

Tries – Farrimond (12), Groves (20), Parkinson (32), Hargreaves (51), Dowie (57), Ratcliffe (78)

Goals – Youds 5

Drop Goal – Muir

MoM – Shaun Dowie

Thatto – Shaun Quinn, Louis Taylor, Sean Leicester, Darren Woods, Aaron Dancer, Andrew Stott, Sean Kenny, Mick Ledger, Nathan Ashurst, Mark Beech, Tom Tunstall, David Pike, Adam Hesketh Subs – Brad Ashurst, Steve Woods, Liam Quinn, Carl Lucas

Tries – Taylor (9), Leicester (39), L Quinn (45), Tunstall (63)

Goals – Leicester 3

MoM – Sean Leicester

Referee – Michael Mannifield

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