A game of two halves, a game with a bit of everything – both cliches held true but ultimately this was perhaps a missed opportunity for Miners who will feel they had the unlikeliest of winning positions against a Mayfield side unbeaten on home soil this season, only to see the chance slip away. When Mayfield roared into a 30-6 lead after twenty five minutes nothing other than an exceptionally good hiding appeared on the cards for the visitors but a second half rally, helped in no small part by the dismissal of Field’s player-coach Matt Calland, had them dreaming of a remarkable victory only to fall agonisingly short.
In part Miners had left themselves too much to do after a simply disastrous first half, the floodgates opening inside a minute as Mayfield regained the kick-off, won a penalty and then set the position for Joe Quanici to rumble over under the sticks, Sam Butterworth goaling. Within two minutes of that score the hosts were in again, some sparkling rugby seeing towering stand-off Paul Brearley break down the middle and find Lewis Sheridan in support to take the scoring pass, and the Mayfield PA man, modelling his style on the Ally Pally darts maestro, was soon called into action again, first when Quanici flicked an inspired offload for Sheridan to again support and finish off, then on the last tackle when the squat Aidie Gleeson barrelled over for a six pointer. At this stage Miners had enjoyed the ball a sum total of twice, both times failing to complete their sets, but when they did find some meaningful possession they made it count, Scott O’Brien dummying to the line and getting the ball away for Martin Gray to dot down, Shaun Dowie converting. Any hopes of a comeback appeared to be swiftly extinguished as Mayfield scored immediately in response, Brearley using his height advantage to wrestle through and touch down on the last, but right on half time a sniff of hope for Miners as O’Brien was too elusive from twenty metres out, the try goaled by Dowie for 30-12.
Two minutes after the restart and real hope now, Connor Ratcliffe diving over from acting half for the try and the gap just twelve points, but Mayfield swiftly hit back, another inventive restart by Butterworth giving them possession back and on the last tackle Brearley hoisted the bomb to the left wing where David Wood climbed highest to grab the ball and touch down. When Butterworth chipped the line on the last for Eric Johnson to follow up and dive over for a 40-18 lead that did appear to be curtains, but the visitors managed the next try with neat work by Jimmy Muir to put Gareth Pain in by the left corner, Dowie with the goal, and the complexion of the game changed completely when Calland saw red just before the hour, the former Bradford man punished for an awful high tackle on Mick O’Boyle.
With a man advantage in hot conditions Miners fancied their chances and two swift tries appeared to have them strong favourites for victory. First O’Brien sliced his way through a bemused defence for his second, then Danny Jackson charged in and off-loaded for O’Brien to grab his hat-trick, Dowie with the goal. Miners thought they had pulled level when Matt Astley drove to the line but the prop was hauled just short, and with Mayfield regrouping for a breather they steadied the ship to good effect, scoring a critical try when a grubber on the last was lost by the Miners’ defence and Sheridan was on hand to grab his treble. That gave the home side something to hang on to, and seemed to take the momentum away from Miners, but there was still time for a grandstand finish, Andrew Groves in off Connor Partington to put the visitors within four points and in the closing minutes Miners winning a penalty on the Mayfield line following a brave offside call by referee Peter Brookes, who then had further courage in his convictions to deny Partington a try on the last play for a forward pass.
Mayfield – Lewis Sheridan, Seta Tala, David Wood, Matt Calland, Rob Kershaw, Paul Brearley, Sam Butterworth, Callum Marriott, Todd O’Brien, Jake Boardman, Liam Whalley, Eric Johnson, Joe Quanici Subs – Declan Sheridan, Ben Butterworth, Aidie Gleeson, Luke Sampson
Miners – Andrew Groves, Jimmy Muir, Brad Hargreaves, Connor Partington, Gareth Pain, Shaun Dowie, Scott O’Brien, Matt Astley, Danny Jones, Darryl Kay, Tommy Parkinson, Danny Jackson, Mick O’Boyle Subs – Connor Ratcliffe, Martin Gray, Ellis Grimes, Chris Bowers
Referee – Peter Brookes