Its Cup Final day on Sunday when Leigh Miners take on local rivals Wigan St Pats in the Conference Challenge Trophy Final at Leigh Sports Village in a game what is being dubbed “Battle of the Borough”, Kick off 11-30am in front of the television cameras with the game being shown LIVE on Premier Sports, SKY Channel 428.
It’s another massive day for the club as they look to retain the Challenge Trophy for a second year having won the inaugural final last September 32-24 against Egremont Rangers at Warrington Wolves Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Miners go into Sundays final with a mixed bag of form with two wins, two defeats and a draw from their last five league matches to leave them in eighth position and all but end their chances of a top six spot this year with three games remaining. With the final being a local derby it will be sure to add a little extra spice to the big occasion and if previous meetings are anything to go by the Leigh Sports Village crowd could be in for a cracker with two of the last three derbies being decided with the last play of the game. When the two teams met in the league in March at Clarington Park a last minute Brad Smith penalty goal sealed a 14-12 victory for St Pats and the lads know if they are to walk back over the canal successful on Sunday afternoon they will have to be at their very best to beat a tough Wigan St Pats team, the players know they have underperformed this year in the league but in the cup they have produced some strong performances again to make the showpiece event and after setting a goal at the start of the year of retaining the Challenge Trophy they are now eighty minutes away of achieving that and they are determined not to miss out on lifting silverware for a second year running.
Coaches Allan Coleman & Paul Whitworth have had a freshened up squad of twenty two players training this week after having no game last week and have had some difficult decisions to make before naming the seventeen to the players, on Sundays final Allan said “it’s an absolutely massive day for us, it was one of our goals at the start of the season, it’s tough to win a trophy but even tougher to hold on to it, so far we have achieved the goal to be back in the final but now we need to ensure we are good enough to overcome a top line St Pats side that will be just as eager to win this competition as we are.”
Joint coach Paul Whitworth also adding “I feel we have some form of advantage this year, with it being our second straight final, and we know a heck of a lot more about our opponents this time round.”
“But above all we are hoping to make history by winning it for a second time and setting a record for the future.”
Wigan St Pats go into the game on the back of two successive away wins against Hull Dockers (32-12) and Ince Rose Bridge (38-36) to move them into seventh place one point behind sixth place Egremont Rangers who they have still got to play to give them a good chance of making the top six with three games remaining. In the cup St Pats similar to Miners have played teams from the lower divisions but their best performance came in the semi-final when they beat last year’s NCL Champions Wath Brow Hornets away 22-8 to put them within eighty minutes of ending the clubs twenty one year wait for silverware at open age level. They too will be freshened up after having no game last week with coach Richard Owen saying It’s been an awful long time in coming,” admitted Owen.
“Everyone involved with the club is excited at the prospect of winning silverware, but anyone who watched amateur Rugby League will tell you that Wigan St Patricks-Leigh Miners Rangers games are not for the faint hearted.
“They are usually packed with skill and aggression and The RFL could not have wished for a better final in my opinion.”
St Pats have also had a visit from professional sports psychologist Damien Hughes in the build-up for Sundays final with Richard adding “I have had Damien speak to the lads before and he enjoyed it and if we needed him any other time he would be glad to help”.
“I thought this was something special and it would be a great boost to get him in again, I rang him and he never hesitated for a second in saying yes.”
“He came along to our Monday training session, spoke to the lads and gave them a few tips on how to focus on what lies ahead. It was a really great session and the players have trained superbly since.”
“It was a great help last time and hopefully it will help us bring success and silverware to St Pats come Sunday.”
LEIGH MINERS RANGERS CUP FINAL SQUAD
ROUTE TO THE FINAL
Leigh Miners Rangers
Round 1 = 48-16 Ince Rose Bridge (Home)
Round 2 = 36-24 Rochdale Mayfield (Home)
Quarter Final = 16-10 Shaw Cross Sharks (Home)
Semi Final = 34-18 Milford Marlins (Home)
WIGAN ST PATRICKS
Round 1 = 36-24 Stanley Rangers (Away)
Round 2 = 26-12 Hunslet Warriors (Home)
Quarter Final = 40-6 Bradford Dudley Hill (Home)
Semi Final = 22-8 Wath Brow Hornets (Away)
FOR LIVE MATCHCASTS UPDATES VISIT http://www.leighminersrangers.net/openage/live-match-cast/
The second team are at home to Thatto Heath Crusaders on Saturday in the league, Kick off 2-30pm at Twist Lane.
Leigh Miners Ladies are away on Sunday against Stanningley in the playoffs.