Miners produced a battling performance but went down to defeat at one of their least-happy hunting grounds as newly-promoted Thatto piled on second half pressure to ease to victory. After the opening weekend’s defeat to Kells this was a much-improved showing from Miners but all their attacking intent in the first half only yielded a single score as Thatto’s defence proved resilient before the tables were turned after the interval and the hosts pulled clear on the scoreboard. Miners welcomed back Connor Ratcliffe but his return was cut short by injury before half time, Mark Thomas, Todd Fenlon and the outstanding Aaron Gorton also forced hors de combat before the final whistle as fortune failed to smile on the visitors. Thatto took an early lead when Bobbie Goulding – not that Bobbie Goulding – dummied through a gap to score but the visitors responded positively with Frankie Halton, Gorton and Darryl Kay making good yards and they took the lead midway through the half when Gorton showed quick thinking from acting half to dart under the posts, Jonny Youds goaling. Miners were then unfortunate to see a try disallowed after Harry Gagen leaped high and palmed the ball back for Jack Reynolds to touch down only to be ruled offside by the touch judge and with that reprieve Thatto stormed back with two tries in quick succession, first a dive over the line from acting half by Josh Crehan and then a fine offload finding Jamie Tracey at full pelt from half way to accelerate past the last defender and in for the score and a 16-6 interval scoreline which was harsh on Miners.
The second half though saw Thatto step up the pressure and it was all hands in defence as Miners battled to hold them out. The pressure though had to tell and the Crusaders wrapped the game up with some clinical finishing as Goulding put Andy Lea racing away from half way and fullback Dan Birkett bagged two of his own, first benefitting from another inspired offload and then being first to Goulding’s kick in-goal. Miners did have the final word with an excellent try of their own, Gagen storming up the middle and putting Tom Maloney racing clear from half way and although the visitors finished strongly the game had long since been settled.