Miners went down to a heavy defeat at inspired Lock Lane. The Leigh side were a pale imitation of the team which had swept to six successive victories prior to this first trip to Castleford in nine years, but take nothing away from an excellent Lane performance as they put their own nadir of defeat to Rose Bridge firmly behind them.
Miners were forced to make a number of changes through holiday absences, with Scott O’Brien, Andrew Groves, Andrew Hodson, Tom Farrimond and Steven Marsh all unavailable and Danny Jackson still sidelined through injury. In came Chris Slater whilst Danny Myers and Dave Wood both made first team debuts. In addition, joint coaches Allan Coleman and Paul Whitworth were both also away, leaving coaching affairs in the hands of former Leigh star John Duffy. Lane, who have recruited a strong team for their return to the top flight, were unchanged from that shock setback at Ince a week previously.
From the outset it became apparent that the home side were in determined mood as they kept Miners penned in their own half with highly-rated international halfback Danny Rowse showing his class, and although Miners battled hard to hold out for the opening fifteen minutes the opening try appeared inevitable, arriving when hard-running loose-forward Chris Siddons crashed onto the ball close to the line and blasted through the tackle to score, Rowse converting. Miners proved unable to find a response and Lane hit a purple patch with three more tries before the break. The next score came as Mikey Hayward was held just short but on the last the ball was moved right where Adam Garlick had linked in from fullback and backed himself to score despite the overlap, his confidence justified as he wriggled through to touch down. On the half hour Lane had a firm hold on the game, giant second row Steve Scott proving a handful as he had in the colours of Methley earlier in the season and he angled his run inside the left channel from forty metres out, brushing away the tackle and finding Garlick in support for his second try. Miners tried to find a way back as Jonny Youds and Jimmy Muir endeavoured to pierce the defence with a varied kicking game but the all round execution was lacking and the handling at times plumbed the depths as the ball was regularly coughed up early in the tackle count. Lane were running hot and they had a fourth try and 24-0 interval lead when the impressive Siddons burst through from half way and although Joe Harrison was able to halt his charge the offload found Joe Groves in support to finish off.
Miners desperately needed the first try of the second half but instead they were breached again. Lane had scarcely required good fortune such was their dominance, but they received a slice of it anyway as Tony Doyle’s bomb was misjudged by Garlick but bounced favourably for Nick Saxton to gather and break away down the right, setting the position for Paul Brown to put Rowse over from twenty metres out. The game entered a scrappy period as Lane slackened off the pace and Miners continued to toil, with Darryl Kay doing his utmost to fire up his troops but inspiration in short supply for the visitors. Jonny Carroll did well to deny opposite number Andy Matthews as he dived for the line and then the champagne moment for the Leigh side as Youds produced a magnificent piece of defensive play to prevent a certain try. Hayward broke the line thirty metres out and cut inside with the line in front of him and two men in support. With Youds closing in the Lane stand-off passed to Garlick but the Miners fullback anticipated the move and continued his chase, nailing Garlick under the posts and forcing the knock-on. Approaching the final ten minutes and Miners avoided the nilling, Youds forcing a knock-on at the other end as he chased a long punt downfield and tackled Hayward, causing the Lane man to lose the ball. From the scrum play was moved left and Martin Gray cut through from Muir’s pass, Youds converting. But Lane had the last word as Rowse put Scott on the charge twenty metres out and with a gap in front of him the big substitute accelerated like a steam train over the line to seal a resounding victory for the home side.
Lane – Adam Garlick. James Cryer, Tom Wood, Nicky Saxton, Andy Matthews, Mikey Hayward, Danny Rowse, Bart Hold, Craig Duncan, Rob Firth, Luke Tagg, Karl Robinson, Chris Siddons Subs – Joe Groves, Paul Brown, Steve Scott, Ben Brown
Tries – Siddons (15), Garlick (20, 30), Groves (36), Rowse (42), Scott (72)
Goals – Rowse 6
MoM – Chris Siddons
Miners – Jonny Youds, Danny Myers, Martin Gray, Adam Thomason, Jonny Carroll, Liam Coleman, Jimmy Muir, Kevin Howells, Tony Doyle, Darryl Kay, Lee Gittins, Chris Slater, Dave Rowlands Subs – Dave Wood, Joe Harrison , Gary Gittins, Gary Greenough
Try – Gray (66)
Goal – Youds
MoM – Jonny Youds
Referee – Chris Dean
« LOCK LANE (AWAY) SKIRLAUGH (AWAY) »