Miners Rangers maintained play-off interest with this derby victory over St Pats. Although the final scoreline suggests a routine success this was a tight game and it was only in the final quarter that Miners pulled clear to confirm another home tie against Rochdale Mayfield in a fortnight’s time. With an entire threequarter line of under-18s this was one of the youngest Miners’ sides of all time however it was long-serving favourite Jimmy Muir who played the decisive role with a first hat-trick for the club to seal the win.
With the sides sharing the spoils from their league fixtures Miners sought a decisive early advantage and they roared out of the blocks to open an 18-0 lead inside the first quarter as Pats had no answer to a whirlwind attacking display. Miners opened the scoring with a trademark move on the last tackle, Scott O’Brien with the deft reverse chip kick and Jonny Youds steaming through to ground the ball before adding the conversion on what proved a perfect afternoon’s work with the boot. A kick of a different sort created the next score as a steepling bomb to the left wing bounced wickedly to wrong-foot the Pats’ defence and kindly for Will Ashworth to gather, cut inside and pass to the supporting Muir to finish off beside the posts, then the Miners’ stand-off slipped through for a solo effort on fifteen minutes to put his side firmly in control. Within minutes though Pats struck back as Ryan Baxter’s pass wide left saw Danny Ryding take the difficult catch above his head and finish off from twenty metres out. The balance of the game changed as Declan Gregory was a lively presence at hooker and the tireless pack led by Jamie Winstanley-Bristoe with Pats now enjoying more possession and territory but Miners scrambling well as a cover tackle forced Gregory into touch just short of the line. But right on the half time whistle the visitors were right back in contention as the pressure told and Phil Glover drove over besides the posts, Dean Hatton goaling to make the score 18-10.
The next try of the game always appeared pivotal but with both sides trading scores early in the second half the match remained in the balance despite Muir completing his treble as he went over from acting half, Youds with the fine conversion from the left touchline. Pats made it ‘as you were’ within ten minutes though as Andy Cunningham drilled the grubber kick ten metres from the line and the ball bounced back into his hands to step under the posts, Hatton again converting. However the decisive blow was struck just past the hour and a triple whammy for Pats as not only did slick handling put Todd Fenlon in at the right corner and Youds proved as unerring from the right flank as he had from the left, but referee Liam Staveley decided he could dispense with the services of his assistant, at least as a temporary measure, by sin-binning Pats’ skipper Liam Gannon for his piquant observations on the legitimacy of the try. Despite the man disadvantage the visitors continued to battle but three scores appeared beyond them and in the closing stages Miners had a sixth try as Darryl Kay blasted through from ten metres out to score beside the posts and extend the season for another fortnight at least.
Miners – Jonny Youds, Will Ashworth, Joe Digby, Robert Crompton, Todd Fenlon, Jimmy Muir, Scott O’Brien, Chris Bower, Jake Lloyd, Darryl Kay, Connor Ratcliffe, Mark Nicholson, Mick O’Boyle Subs – Jordan Hellam, Matt Astley, Gary Gittins, Martin Gray
Tries – Youds (3), Muir (10,15, 46), Fenlon (64), Kay (71)
Goals – Youds 6
MoM – Jimmy Muir
Pats – Joe Higham, Afeez Oderinde, Brad Hargreaves, Danny Ryding, Tyler Spence, Ryan Baxter, Dean Hatton, Jamie Winstanley-Bristoe, Andy Cunningham, Josh Leiper, Phil Mitchell, Liam Gannon, Jonny Brown Subs – Phil Glover, Joe Prior, Declan Gregory, James Texeira
Tries – Ryding (15), Glover (40), Cunningham (59)
Goals – Hatton 2
Sin-Bin – Gannon (64, dissent)
MoM – Jonny Brown
Referee – Liam Staveley