It’s “Battle of the Borough” time on Saturday when Leigh Miners take on local rivals Wigan St Pats in the quarter final of the Conference Challenge Trophy, Kick off at the slightly later time off 2-45pm at Twist Lane due to the second team playing before hand at 12-45 against Leyland Warriors in the league.
Saturday’s game will be the third meeting between the two sides in this competition since it was introduced in 2012, the first coming in the final in 2013 where Miners won 42-14 at the Leigh Sports Village, before St Pats won the second game 46-10 last year in the quarter final at Twist Lane.
Miners go into this Challenge Trophy clash on the back of another disappointing away performance last weekend, losing 44-38 at Rochdale Mayfield to again drop out of the top six into seventh position. Luckily for Miners results went their way last weekend so they are still only three points off top spot with two games in hand of four of the sides above them.
The first half performance at Mayfield being the worst in a long time from a Miners side, lacking energy and conceding some very soft tries to find themselves 30-12 at the break. Playing better in the second half and doing well to comeback from 40-18 down when the scoreline could have become a cricket score, only to be disappointed at the end of the game with the defeat when despite not playing well another two points on the road went begging when they was really there for the taking.
The players know they are going to be in for a very tough match on Saturday, as they always are against St Pats and they will certainly have to make sure they are switched on from start, defending much tougher than last week, especially in the middle if they are to keep their hopes alive of regaining the Conference Challenge Trophy.
Coaches Allan Coleman & Paul Whitworth make four changes from last week, with Martin Gray away on holiday along Matt Astley, Andrew Groves and Danny Jones who all miss the game through injury. Coming into the side are Tom Farrimond, Harry Gagen, Gary Gittins and Mark Nicholson.
On last week’s defeat at Rochdale Mayfield, coach Paul Whitworth said “It was an uncomfortable first 30 minutes for us all to say the least.”
“If I had to sum our performance up it would be ‘self destruct’. There is a good reason they have won 6 from 7 at home and they caught us out right from the off.”
“But we have to give Rochdale credit, they started smart and made us look pretty dumb defensively at times. They did everything right and we seemed to do everything wrong and paid the price.”
“To go in at half time with just 18 points deficit, considering the score after the first twenty minutes was not as bad a position as we first feared.”
“Again we had to show character to get within a score and that’s a pleasing thing, but I think it’s another game we shouldn’t have let slip.”
“To have the Referee over rule the touch judge and cancel the try for forward pass on the final play when he wasn’t in line looked to me like self preservation taking into account the Rochdale crowd.”
“Fortunately the other results went our way so we need to take the right learning curves from this game as we go forward.”
With Allan Coleman adding “I thought we was awful in the first 20 minutes, we gave them far to much respect.”
“Our core was completely lost on contact and our inside defence around the ruck was awful.”
“I thought there defence was awful as well, but we didn’t work them enough.We played for 1/3 of the game and lost with six points.”
“When we can start playing for whole game we will give out a hiding to someone, but we need to learn how to cope with different teams.”
Looking ahead to the St Pats game, Whitworth said “We seem to be making a habit of facing each other in this competition. They are tough and competitive side and have made some improvements from last year but so have we.”
“I was particularly disappointed in our performance last year at this stage. There’s no doubt we need have the composure to match our effort and maybe a little bit of luck to close this type of game out.”
“With the reserves playing beforehand there should be a good crowd and there’s enough at stake to make for another great spectacle.”
With Coleman adding “Saturday is a massive game for the club and the players, it’s derby day and it’s going to be fast, tough and played with a lot of passion.”
“We know what we have to do and we will certainly be more organised from the start than we was last week.”
“St pats are very similar team to us, they like to play rugby so expect alot of attacking rugby from both sides this weekend.”
Wigan St Pats currently sit at the top of the Premier Division going into the cup weekend, winning all seven of their home matches as well as picking up a draw at Lock Lane to leave them on 15 points after 12 matches. In the Challenge Trophy St Pats have beaten Blackbrook (42-12) and Normanton Knights (23-22) to get to this stage and they to like Miners will be looking to bounce back with a strong performance, after being beaten 47-16 last weekend at East Leeds.
When the two sides met at the start of the year in Round 1 of the league, St Pats come out very fast and where leading 20-10 at the break with tries for Marlon Alker, Jayden Sandford and Declan McLoughlin. Miners coming back into the game in the second half and taking the game in the final ten minutes with tries from Tommy Parkinson and Adam Thomason to win 24-22.
Leigh Miners 2nd team kick off the day at Twist Lane on Saturday afternoon when they take on Leyland Warriors in the league, Kick off 12-45pm
The u18s are at home on Sunday against Portico Vine in the league, Kick off 11-45am at Twist Lane.
Leigh Miners Ladies are also at home on Sunday against Featherstone Rovers in the league, Kick off 2pm at Twist Lane.