Miners Rangers extended their unbeaten record across Wigan Borough as they picked up a second away league win of 2014 at the home of fiercest rivals St Pats. The win keeps Miners’ play-off charge on track and opens a five point gap over their vanquished opponents, whom they meet again in cup action in a fortnight’s time. St Pats, stricken by the tragic death of player Anthony Hughes during the week, showed huge amounts of character and – aided by a hefty penalty count – dominated possession and field position, but were thwarted by a resilient and tenacious Miners defence led by Jimmy Muir, Matty Meaden and Darryl Kay. Whilst Miners were starved of the ball for long spells, when they did have their chances they took them with clinical precision to wrap up a vital derby victory.
After weathering good early Pats pressure Miners drew first blood when Muir wrong-footed the defence fifteen metres out and cut through to score, Jonny Youds with the first of his four conversions. However the Wigan side hit back when Ryan Smith’s reverse pass sent Jonny Brown charging through the defensive line. The home side hit the front shortly afterwards when Miners gave away possession in their own half and Brad Smith dived over the line from acting half, adding the conversion from under the posts, but Miners held the interval lead when Youds darted over the line from close range, his own conversion making it 12-10 to the visitors, and with Pats seemingly feeling the pace Miners appeared to be gaining control.
With a string of penalties and some Miners’ handling errors opening proceedings in the second half, the home side gained fresh encouragement and they went ahead again when a Ryan Smith bomb was contested by players from both sides, Joe Higham capitalising as he gathered the ball in and scored out wide. Miners again responded, winning a scrum midway inside the Pats half and when the ball emerged Youds dummied and cut through for another fine solo effort. With just four points between the sides the game became a tense arm-wrestle and Miners had to defend staunchly as Pats sought the win. Things could have been more comfortable but Miners had two tries disallowed on the intervention of the touch judge, first denying Tom Parkinson for offside and then Andrew Groves for a forward pass. However with the final play Miners embellished the scoreline as a crunching Ellis Grimes tackle dislodged the ball from Charlie Mitchell’s grasp on his own line, Jack Probert swooping in to score.
The Alliance team recorded a fine win 54-16 at Oldham St Annes, Scott Travis with four tries and further touchdowns for Matthew Rozman, Sam Shepherd (five goals also), Garry Fitzmartin (and one goal).