Leigh Miners attentions turn to the Conference Challenge Trophy on Saturday afternoon, as they look to reach their third final in four years when they take on Thornhill Trojans in the semi final, Kick off 2-30pm at Twist Lane.
Miners go into this massive game on the back of a excellent 25-14 away win at Siddal last weekend, bouncing back from a heavy defeat at Wath Brow to go home with the two points from Chevinedge for the first time in nearly a decade. The victory moving Miners up into fourth position, well placed with eight league games remaining.
This week promises to be the toughest game of the year to date with Thornhill by all accounts being a tough hard working side. Miners know they will have to be at their very best to beat a fired up Trojans side who go into the game with no pressure at all on them. The lads are looking forward to the challenge and are determined not to let the chance slip by of making the final again, as they are eager on winning the Conference Challenge Trophy for a third time come October.
Looking back at last week’s win at Siddal, hooker Danny Jones said “I think last week was a brilliant performance, one that could really define our season and hopefully help us kick onto better things.”
“I think it will have sent a message out to all of the league and it actually shows that we’re not just a fair weather team.”
“I feel like we got the better of them physically and just ground out the win, I never felt like was going to lose and we had complete control of the match.”
It was a great performance to be a part of and one that I’m really proud of.”
“As a group we were really disappointed by the Wath Brow result, personally it made me more determined to be available for Siddal and to put some of those wrongs right.”
Looking forward to the Thornhill game, Jones added “they come in as a bit of an unknown quantity, they’re not a team that I know too much about.”
“We know we have to give them the respect they deserve and to expect a tough match.”
“It’s a semi final and anything can happen, I think if we pick up from where we left off last week we’ll be in good shape to get to another final.”
Coaches Allan Coleman and Paul Whitworth will make at least one change from last weekend, with captain Scott O’Brien returning from holiday this week coming in for the injured Adam Thomason. Also coming into contention for a place in the side are Shaun Dowie, Tom Farrimond, Harry Gagen, Joe Harrison and Dave Rowlands.
On last week’s win against Siddal, coach Paul Whitworth said “The Siddal win away last week was a real milestone for us, we had to adapt to the pitch and the conditions and we ground out a gutsy performance.”
“We hung in there as a group, completed in the high 80’s and found the hunger to win, that’s an element you look for in your team as a coach.”
“There were good efforts across the whole team but Danny Jones and Chris Bower were stand outs along with Jimmy Muir’s direction that pushed them around all game.”
“These efforts have now put us in a good position and we can be more confident going into the final stretch of the season.”
“Adam Thomason deserves a big mention from us in that he put his hand up and played out of position and on one leg in the last three games in our hour of need.”
With Allan Coleman adding “We played very tough at Siddal, we had to.”
“Our pack was tremendous, So was all the team but in the middle we was outstanding.”
“And our completion was very good as well considering the weather.”
On this week’s semi final, Whitworth said “What I do know about Thornhill is they dispatched a Premier side with ease and that doesn’t happen by chance.”
“Their league position doesn’t reflect them, we’ve done our homework to get to know them and we will prepare well for what will be a tough encounter.”
“They have good players in key roles, a tough middle and their outside edges can score from distance.”
“Cup games tend to be played at a different tempo to the league games and we will need to respond
“The motivation to win is already there but it goes without saying we need to start well and put in a performance good enough to see usprogress.”
Looking at the Thornhill game, Coleman added “This week is a bit different. We start as favourites, but we know it will be a very difficult task ahead.”
“We will focus on ourselves and will have to be at our best.”
“I went to watch Thornhill a couple of weeks ago, they had tremendous spirit in there team and some quality individuals, So we know they are a very good side.”
“We have been here before so i hope our experienced players lead the young guys through the game.”
“We will be ready, our squad is getting back to full strength at the right time, Its got all the ingredients to be a great cup game.”
Thornhill are back in the NCL this year after a five year absence, withdrawing in 2010 to join the Pennine league due to lack of players. The Dewsbury outfit have rebuilt well over the last five years both on and off the pitch and are currently well on track for promotion from Division 3, as they look to become the force they where in the NCL in the early/mid 2000s.
In the Conference Challenge Trophy this year, The Trojans beat Gateshead Storm (66-16) and Hunslet Warriors (30-18) in Rounds one and two respectively, Before hammering current Premier Division leaders Rochdale Mayfield 42-10 in the quarter final. After such a good win in the last eight Thornhill will be coming to Twist Lane full of confidence looking for another Premier Division scalp in their bid to reach the final.
Leigh Miners second team now have a free weekend after Halton Farmworth Hornets conceded the game due to lack of players.
The u18s have no game this weekend.
Leigh Miners Ladies are away at Thatto Heath Crusaders on Sunday in the league.