Leigh Miners make the short trip to St Helens on Saturday to take on 2011 NCL Champions Thatto Heath Crusaders in the first round of the playoffs (Elimination Playoff Tie), Kick off 2pm at Close Street.
After playing six matches in twenty days it’s been a week of recovery for Miners, all the lads resting up for Saturdays’ big game after a tough run of fixtures over the last couple of weeks. With the squad meeting up at the club on Wednesday night for a civic reception were they were met by local dignitaries as Mayor Cllr Myra Whiteside and Leader of Wigan Council Lord Peter Smith, The event in recognition of the team’s success in the inaugural Conference Challenge Cup final, followed by a very light training session on Thursday between the first and second team.
Champions Thatto Heath go into the game in very good form, winning seven of their last eight matches the most recent being a comfortable 40-14 home victory against Myton Warriors last weekend to deny Myton the chance of finishing the regular season on top of the pile. Both teams have won a game apiece against each other this season, Thatto winning 29-18 at Close Street back in April and Miners winning 34-24 in August at Twist Lane.
The home side will be looking to make home advantage count on Saturday and keep their dreams alive of winning back to back Grand Finals, a feat achieved only once before by Siddal when they won the title in 2003 and 2004. While Miners will be hoping to keep up their good run of form in knockout games this year with another victory on the road to move them a step closer of appearing in their second major final of the year. The winner will play the winner of the other Elimination Tie which is being contested by Hull rivals Myton Warriors and West Hull.
Todd Appleby, Steven Tooze and Jonny Youds all return to the side after missing last week’s 22-18 home defeat against Wath Brow Hornets.
Miners will be without the services of Ross Bradley, Liam Coleman, Danny Jackson, Martin Lewis, Shaun Marsh and John Woods through injury along with Tom Farrimond and Aaron Gorton who miss out through holiday and work commitments respectively.
The Second team are away to Haresfinch on Saturday in the League (NWMD2), Kick off 2-30pm.