Miners Rangers had the perfect Cup Final fillip with only their second win at West Hull in twenty years. A week after battling to victory against a side fighting for their lives at the bottom of the table, Miners had to show the same qualities against a Wests side eyeing the Minor Premiership and at one of their least happy hunting grounds in the NCL. The Leigh side were without Aaron Gorton for this game with Tom Farrimond coming in at hooker whilst Martin Lewis returned in the centres. Wests, with one loss in their last eight games, had their evergreen player-coach Mark Hewitt at scrum-half.
The well-matched nature of the contest was evident from the opening stages as Adam Thomason came up with a try-saving tackle to force the knock-on by Louis Jackson over the line before the second-row almost scored at the other end, some fine rugby involving Lewis and Jonny Carroll creating the chance but Thomason held up short. On the quarter hour mark came the opening score as Wests opted to run the ball on the last tackle, highly-rated stand-off Ian Kerman spreading play wide and Ryan Morrow fending off the tackle and crashing over the line. Within five minutes the visitors were level as Liam Coleman and Jonny Youds combined to create the chance for Ross Bradley and with an overlap, the centre instead backed himself to score and was vindicated as he forced his way through the tackle to score for 4-4.
Miners had enjoyed the better of the game to this point and two tries in the next eight minutes had them with a commanding advantage. First Youds placed a bouncing kick to the right wing and as the ball sprang up high it was fumbled by winger Jack Ridsdill for Lewis to smartly nip in and score at the corner, Youds with the excellent conversion. The visitors were ten points clear when Coleman burst through from twenty yards out and had Lee Gittins in support to power over the line and 14-4. However just four minutes before the break and the game was alive again, Wests exerting pressure on the back of penalties and as the Miners defence battled hard they were undone with a soft try from Danny Bloom, the hooker diving over from acting half and Hewitt’s goal narrowing the gap to four points.
The Wests’ player-coach was involved again six minutes into the second period but this time putting his side at a disadvantage as he was sin-binned for a foul challenge on Lewis as the Miners’ centre broke down the right. Despite the man disadvantage the home side almost scored when Tom Radley stormed clear from half way but was held just short by Bradley and had his try claim disallowed for double movement. With that reprieve Miners launched an attack that proved decisive, Scott O’Brien with an expertly-measured kick to the right flank and as Ridsdill dawdled Carroll beat him to the ball and kicked back infield for Gittins to gather and although he was held short by Danny Swales the line was wide open and Carroll went from acting half to plant the ball down at the corner.
There was still plenty of time left in the game and Wests ensured it would be a tense final thirteen minutes with a classy solo try from substitute Matt Plummer, who enjoyed an eye-catching game off the bench, as he stepped back inside the defence from twenty metres out and showed a clean pair of heels to score, Hewitt goaling to narrow the gap to two points. Both sides had chances, with the best falling to Miners as O’Brien chipped over the top and regathered and then flighted a kick to the left wing that just evaded Sean Pendlebury with the line open, but the Leigh side saw time out to register a famous victory.
Wests – Danny Swales, Chris Whinn, Ryan Morrow, Lewis Jackson, Jack Ridsdill, Ian Kerman, Mark Hewitt, James Garmston, Danny Bloom, Tom Richardson, Paul Shaw, Scott Howlett, Dean Thompson Subs – Matt Plummer, Tom Radley, Sam Radford, Ben Parker
Tries – Morrow (15), Bloom (36), Plummer (67)
Goals – Hewitt 2
MoM – Matt Plummer
Miners – Jonny Youds, Sean Pendlebury, Ross Bradley, Martin Lewis, Jonny Carroll, Liam Coleman, Scott O’Brien, Shaun Marsh, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Adam Thomason, Lee Gittins, Dave Rowlands Subs – Josh Ward, Danny Jones, Danny Jackson, Kevin Howells
Tries – Bradley (21), Lewis (25), Gittins (29), Carroll (52)
Goal – Youds
MoM – Darryl Kay
Referee – Gareth Evans