Miners Rangers ended St Pats fine run in the Conference Trophy, preventing their age-old rivals from reaching the semi-finals for a fourth successive season, and gained full revenge for their quarter final mauling last term by the same opponents with this resounding win in front of a big crowd at a sun-baked Twist Lane. This was an outstanding performance in defence and attack by the Leigh side as they dismantled the league leaders in a scintillating display, Connor Ratcliffe, Gareth Pain and Shaun Dowie all with braces and Mark Nicholson, Scott O’Brien and Brad Hargreaves enjoying fine games. Pats battled gamely but were largely on the back foot despite strong efforts from Dan Birkett, Joe Prior and Afeez Oderinde.
Both sides opened at pace and Pats drew first blood, winning a scrum in the Miners’ and quick hands left putting Birkett in at the corner, but Miners responded before the quarter mark with quick thinking from Muir as he sprinted in from acting half to level matters. Within five minutes the home side were ahead, Hargreaves wrestling through the defence on his own thirty metres then showing the pace to sprint clear for a fine try under the posts. On the half hour there was daylight between the sides as Ratcliffe darted in from acting half, and right on half time it was a commanding 22-4 lead as Dowie’s quick footwork and change of direction wrong-footed the defence and created the gap for the Australian to sprint in for the try.
Pats had a swift response after half time as Jonny Brown showed his alertness to power over from close range, but Miners rallied strongly and pulled well clear of their opponents with two tries either side of the hour. First some slick play saw O’Brien put Dowie over from the reverse pass for the try, then O’Brien involved again as he put Ellis Grimes driving over under the posts. The closing ten minutes were cruel on Pats as they shipped points following Brown’s sin-binning for a high tackle. With the extra man Miners turned the screw, quick handling putting Gareth Pain in for the try, and although Birkett scored his second of a cute pass from Earl Hurst on half way, the home side had two more in response, first when Ratcliffe shrugged off weary tackles to sprint in from 40m out then with the final play Dowie put Pain in at the corner.
Gamestar – Connor Ratcliffe was outstanding with two well-taken tries and a fine performance
Gamebreaker – Miners’ two tries either side of the hour mark killed Pats off
Miners – Shaun Dowie, Harry Gagen, Connor Partington, Brad Hargreaves, Gareth Pain, Jimmy Muir, Scott O’Brien, Chris Bowers, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Tommy Parkinson, Danny Jackson, Ellis Grimes Subs – Connor Ratcliffe, Mark Nicholson, Mick O’Boyle, Gary Gittins
Tries – Muir (16), Hargreaves (22), Ratcliffe (33, 78), Dowie (39, 56), Pain (73, 80)
Goals – O’Brien 6
MoM – Connor Ratcliffe
Pats – Mike Scrivens, Dan Birkett, Earl Hurst, Tyler Spence, Afeez Oderinde, Andy Cunningham, Joe Prior, Jamie Winstanley-Bristo, Marlon Alker, Andy Higham, Ryan Ashall, Liam Gannon, Jonny Brown Subs – Ryan Braddock, Brad Smith, Joe Higham, Jon Padgett
Tries – Birkett (8, 76), Brown (44)
Goals – Birkett, Scrivens
Sin-Bin – Brown (68, high tackle)
MoM – Joe Prior
Referee – Paul Marklove
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