Miners moved into the first round of the Conference Challenge Cup with a comfortable success against Division One Stanningley. The Leigh side’s first away win of 2012 was perhaps an expected outcome against a Stanningley side struggling at the foot of the second tier but it was still a clinical performance by Miners to sweep the Yorkshire outfit aside and to record a second clean sheet of the season as they booked a trip to Wigan St Judes in the next round.
Miners were forced to make a number of changes from the previous weekend with Ross Bradley and Steven Grundy injured and John Woods unavailable. In came Jason O’Brien for his first appearance for the first team with Kevin Howells returning at prop and Martin Gray switched to centre.
In greasy conditions at the impressive Arthur Miller Stadium Miners had a slight scare early in proceedings as Stanningley forced a knock-on from kick-off and enjoyed a set in the Miners’ half but having withstood that early pressure and the disruption caused by a succession of injuries to both teams in the opening quarter, the visitors soon got to grips with their opponents. Shaun Marsh and Darryl Kay punched holes in the defence and sent Martin Lewis striding through for the opening score on six minutes, and that lead was doubled when Miners moved the ball swiftly left from a scrum inside Stanningley’s half, Liam Coleman and Jason O’Brien combining to put Marsh over at the corner, Scott O’Brien with both conversions.
Sean Pendlebury enjoyed a fine game at fullback in difficult conditions and his excellent break was continued by Scott O’Brien for Miners’ third try and then the O’Brien brothers combined as Scott’s kick across field on the last was gathered on the slide by winger Jason to notch a deserved score and 22-0 at the break.
That ensured the game was sealed against a Stanningley side who didn’t lack heart but never appeared to have the firepower to damage Miners. To the home side’s credit though they made life difficult for Miners in a scrappy and at times niggly second half, Miners hinting that they might cut loose with two tries in the opening ten minutes as O’Brien dummied through for a trademark try and then smart handling left saw Lewis and Scott O’Brien put Pendlebury over at the corner, but the floodgates never crashed open as Stanningley dug in, and Miners opted to try new combinations and fresh personnel. The final try came in the closing five minutes, Stanningley reduced to twelve when winger Sam Savage was sin-binned for an altercation with Lewis and with a man advantage down the right Miners found the gap for Lee Gittins to dive over the whitewash.
Stanningley – Nathan Phipps, Dean Parker, Stuart Halliday, Simon Thompson, Sam Savage, Anthony Glynn, Sean Cooper, Mathew Brook, Tom Kent, Mark Doogan, Adam Elwell, Adam Benn, Chris Rouse Subs – Andy Halliday, Danny Rawlins, Ben Allen, Ross Peel
Sin-Bin – Sam Savage (70)
MoM – Adam Benn
Miners – Sean Pendlebury, Jason O’Brien, Lee Gittins, Martin Gray, Darryl Flannery, Martin Lewis, Scott O’Brien, Kevin Howells, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Adam Thomason, Shaun Marsh, Dave Rowlands Subs – Danny Jones, Joe Harrison, Craig Connor, Liam Coleman
Tries – Lewis (6), Marsh (13), S O’Brien (27, 42), J O’Brien (33), Pendlebury (48), Gittins (74)
Goals – S O’Brien 4
MoM – Kevin Howells
Referee – Chris Kendall