Miners Rangers overcame the rugged and at times brutal challenge of Dudley Hill as they opened their Conference Cup defence with a comfortable win. Having received a walkover in the first round of the competition, the Leigh side enjoyed anything but in this second round tie as they had to contain the enthusiasm of the Yorkshire side in an evenly-balanced first half before surviving a bruising second half as Hill’s cynical approach ultimately contributed to their own downfall with three players spending stints in the sin bin as Miners racked up the points.
Division Two Hill, Miners’ semi-final opponents two years ago, had the dream start when Harry Hall broke from inside his own half and Nathan Kitson supported to score under the posts, inside the first minute. Simon Sewell’s conversion and then a penalty had the home side 8-0 ahead but once Miners began to settle they were soon on the scoreboard, Andrew Groves finishing out wide off Jonny Youds and Sean MacDonald and then Scott O’Brien, shaking off an earlier off-the-ball challenge, dummying over from close range, Youds goaling. However Sewell’s penalty for holding down had Hill on level terms at the break at 10-10.
Miners were to seize full control in the second half as Hill were hoist by their own petard. Even before the home side began to implode the visitors were in control, Dave Rowlands and then Tom Farrimond forcing their way over the line from close range, and then when things did begin to boil over with Hall and Anthony Lawton binned for fighting and butting respectively, rapidly followed by Andrew Robinson for dissent, Miners reaped dividends against the ten men, Youds breaking from deep and putting Shaun Dowie diving in at the corner and further tries following for Tom Parkinson as he charged over from forty metres out for his first Miners’ try, Jimmy Muir diving over from close range and Jack Probert with the pace to exploit the gaps across the field. Hill did register two late tries of their own through veteran winger Neil Wall to put a slightly flattering gloss on the final scoreline but Miners had won through to the last eight, where they have been drawn at home to Wigan St Patricks in a repeat of last year’s final, Saturday 2nd August