Leigh Miners entertain Thatto Heath Crusaders on Thursday night in a rearranged NCL Kingstone Press Cider Premier Division Round 5 fixture, after the original game was postponed in April due to Miners involvement in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup fifth round against York City Knights, Kick off 7-30pm at Twist Lane.
Miners go into the game on the back of a very good 40-10 away victory last weekend against West Hull, producing a strong performance throughout to move level on points with leaders Rochdale Mayfield and leave Wests with a tough battle on their hands in their battle for survival after suffering their biggest league defeat of the season.
This week’s game is another important one for the Twist Lane outfit, with Miners knowing they will go two points clear at the top of the Premier Division table with victory over Thatto. The players know they will again have to play very well to get the win against a Crusaders side who also need a win in their bid to avoid relegation, but are determined not to miss out on the chance of going to the top of the tree as they look to finish the league season as strong as they can over the next few weeks.
Coaches Allan Coleman and Paul Whitworth make three changes from the sixteen that travelled to West Hull with Jake Lloyd and Joe Lorimer dropping back to the u18s along with captain Scott O’Brien who is away on holiday. Coming into the side are Brad Hargreaves, Danny Jones, Connor Partington and Charles Tyson.
Speaking about last week’s win at West Hull, coach Paul Whitworth said “The game fell on a bit of a bad week for us. We had picked up three injuries and had a few away.”
“There was quite a bit of re-shuffling but we prepared well. Our first half completion was where we need to be, up at 85%.”
“A pleasing factor for me was we didn’t stray from our plan, we kept the pressure on and closed out the game.”
“These are a talented, close set of lads who are working really hard for each other and their efforts deserve praise.”
Looking ahead to Thursday’s game against Thatto Heath, Whitworth added “It’s a quick turnaround into this game and we have some bodies back which helps.”
“We hear Thatto have recruited recently and they will arrive at strength after their weekend off.”
“Defensively we will have to be very good or they have the potential to punish us.”
“The main focus for us is to remember what got us into this position and to keep working hard for each over, pushing for that improvement.”
With Allan Coleman adding “Its going to be a very tough game, I went to watch Thatto last Wednesday and was impressed with there energy and attitude”
“It would be so easy for a team down at the bottom to give up, but they are the opposite they have a believe in their team.”
“We will be really focused and ready for the game, the squad is getting back to full strength just at the right time for the run in.”
“We have been completing really high and that is a massive plus for us, teams find it difficult to keep defending against us.”
“Like i say its going to be a tough game, Thatto need to win in their bid for survival and we want a win to be top, so watch this space!”
Thatto Heath travel to Leigh with a win and a draw from their last two home games leading up to this game with Miners, hammering playoff contenders Hull Dockers 40-8 on the 15th August before playing out a hard fought 16-16 draw last Wednesday against Wath Brow Hornets. Them two results leaving Thatto in eleventh position on 11 points.
The St Helens outfit are in exactly the same position as West Hull with six games remaining, being four points adrift from safety knowing they are going to have to win most if not all of their matches to have any chance of remaining in the top flight.