It’s “Battle of the Borough” time again on Saturday afternoon when Leigh Miners make the short trip across the borough to take on local rivals Wigan St Pats in Round 18 of the NCL Kingstone Press Cider Premier Division, Kick off 2-30pm at Clarington Park.
Miners travel to Wigan in good form having won their last five games, four of them being in the league with the most recent being last Thursday against Thatto Heath. Toughing it out against a relegation threatened St Helens outfit to win 35-22 and move two points clear at the top of the Premier Division with five games remaining.
This week’s game against St Pats is the start of five massive league games for the Miners as there destiny is now in their own hands if they want to be crowned minor premiers for the first time since 2008. The players are looking forward to the challenge of what the next few weeks will bring and they know they will have to be on the top of their game in every match, especially with all their opponents needing the points for a top six spot or to avoid relegation.
Coaches Allan Coleman and Paul Whitworth are forced into making at least one change from that side that beat Thatto Heath, with utility forward Martin Gray being away on holiday. Coming back into contention for a place in the seventeen are Danny Jackson, Mike O’Boyle, Scott O’Brien and Adam Thomason.
Speaking about last week’s home win against Thatto Heath, joint coach Allan Coleman said “It was a very tough game, Thatto showed a lot of effort and skill and we knew they was going to be hard to be beat.”
“They had there strongest team out all year, so it shows how well we did to win”
“We completed very high once again and thats why we are winning
“Defensively we was okay but we need it to be better.”
With Paul Whitworth adding “Before the game we spoke about how we had to forget their league position and make sure we gave them respect in the way we prepare and approach the game.”
“It was almost a ‘do or die’ situation for them and from that they would find energy to stay in the game.”
“They had brought some experienced players in and it proved to be a hard fought game.”
“We had a really good spell mid-way through the first half and was a little disappointed we didn’t post more points than we did given the opportunities on offer.”
“Thatto found a way back into the game in the second half and it was good game management by the lads to get themselves back in the high percentages which in turn brought us enough points to see us home.”
Looking ahead to this week’s game against St Pats, Coleman added “The Pats game is massive for us, a local derby with a lot to play for.”
“We want to stay top and Pats need to win to cement a play off place.”
“Richard will have them well structured and hard to break down, but we need to focus on our strengths which is starving teams on possession.”
“Our defence will be alot better Saturday, it as to be or we will be in trouble. every game now is a grand final to us starting on Saturday”
With Whitworth adding “Historically in the league it is usually only a score separating both sides and we’ll have to be prepared for a tight battle.”
“They are a dangerous side with threats all over the field and like us they are in a position to go on and win something.”
“The league is still wide open and the points will be crucial for both sides.”
“We can’t afford to drop any intensity out of our game, I think we are improving and we’re becoming durable, but it’s taken a while to get to this stage.”
Wigan St Pats go into Saturday’s game all freshened up and raring to go after having no game for over two weeks. Their last game being on the 15th of August when they drew 30-30 at home against Lock Lane, the draw leaving St Pats in fifth position on 20 points with five games remaining.
Richard Owen’s men will be at virtually full strength against Miners, with only winger Dan Birkett doubtful through injury. St Pats like Miners will see this local derby as a must win game, with them knowing that a victory will take them within two points of their visitors to boost their own chances of finishing top.
The two sides have met twice already this season with Miners winning both games at Twist Lane, the first coming on the opening day of the season in the league when Miners come from behind to win the game late on 24-22. The second encounter being a Conference Challenge Trophy Quarter Final tie in July where Miners produced a strong performance to win 48-16.
Leigh Miners second team are now without a game this weekend after Accrington Panthers were unable to raise a side.
The u18s are at home on Sunday against Rochdale Mayfield in the Lancashire Cup semi final replay, Kick off 11-45am at Twist Lane.
Leigh Miners Ladies have no game this weekend and are back in action on the 13th September.