Miners marched into the last four of the Conference Cup and a semi-final tie at Bradford Dudley Hill with this ten-try demolition of high-flying Wath Brow. It was a high-octane performance from an exuberant Miners side who appeared to truly enjoy themselves as they produced some sparkling attacking rugby. The Cumbrians had claimed a share of the league leadership the previous weekend with their eleventh win in the last twelve, but they arrived at Twist Lane deprived of their three GB youth internationals Karl Dixon, Ian Curnow and Scott Pink. Miners meanwhile welcomed Ross Bradley, Sean Pendlebury, Jimmy Muir, Liam Coleman and Darryl Kay back into the side from the previous weekend’s loss at Siddal although Aaron Gorton, John Woods and Craig Connor were unavailable.
On an afternoon when bright sunshine was peppered with heavy showers, the Hornets started positively and opened the scoring on just four minutes as Jason Connery hoisted a cross-field kick on the last tackle and the ball bounced back for Gregg Dawson to gather and score, Peter Caddy goaling, but in a frantically-paced opening period it didn’t take Miners long to get back into the game. On ten minutes the home side had responded, Kevin Howells powering through the middle before the ball was worked left for Bradley to slip through the tackles and score out wide. Within three minutes Miners were ahead as Coleman dummied then burst through the gap from halfway with Kay and Scott O’Brien supporting, and although play briefly broke down Miners managed to retain possession and Adam Thomason put Martin Lewis over at the right corner, Jonny Youds goaling. Miners were easing through the gears but the next try was a while in coming, and in between times chances came and went, O’Brien and Kay breaking down the middle but the scrambling defence somehow managing to force the breakdown, then Sean Pendlebury was just tipped into touch by Dawson as he slid for the line. The lead was extended when O’Brien kicked to the right flank and Lewis gathered before passing inside for Danny Jackson to stretch over the whitewash, but still the floodgates just about creaked shut as tries for Youds and Ryan Ravenscroft were ruled out for forward passes. When they did burst open though it was to devastating effect as three tries in the final nine minutes of the half had Miners in full control. First Lewis burrowed through the tackle for his second try, then immediately from the restart Pendlebury returned the kick with interest down the right wing and from the resultant position Thomason broke through for a six-pointer. Right on the whistle came the try of the match, O’Brien again the architect as he chipped the defensive line, regathered, bounced off a tackle and then put Pendlebury over beside the posts, Youds’ conversion making it 30-6 at the interval.
There was nothing to suggest Brow were going to get back into the game in the second half and so it proved, despite the Cumbrians mounting an early spell of pressure which culminated in Dave Rowlands being sin-binned for the third Miners’ high-tackle in the space of a few minutes, but despite being a man light the Leigh side not only held their line intact, they added two more scores into the bargain. First O’Brien danced away from the tackles and put Youds away for a six-pointer, then as Brow pressed Pendlebury picked the intercept off Jamie Martin’s pass and scorched away from inside his own twenty for the score. In the final quarter Miners added two further tries to bring up the half century, first as Josh Ward dummied the beleaguered defence to score from close range, then some slick passing between Ward and O’Brien saw the latter pop up a reverse pass for Youds to slice through for his second.
Miners – Jonny Youds, Sean Pendlebury, Ross Bradley, Martin Lewis, Ryan Ravenscroft, Liam Coleman, Scott O’Brien, Kevin Howells, Tom Farrimond, Darryl Kay, Adam Thomason, Lee Gittins, David Rowlands Subs – Jimmy Muir, Josh Ward, Shaun Marsh, Danny Jackson
Tries – Bradley (10), Lewis (13, 31), Jackson (26), Thomason (34), Pendlebury (39, 54), Youds (51, 67), Ward (59)
Goals – Youds 6
MoM – Scott O’Brien
Brow – Ryan Amor, Peter Caddy, Francis King, Jamie Devine, Gregg Dawson, Jason Connery, Charlie Tomlinson, Paul Murphy, Ryan Doran, Jamie Martin, Matthew Huby, Jamie McClellan, Jamie Dixon Subs – Jamie Sharpe, Andrew Price, Ben Bateson, Lewis McCarron
Try – Dawson (4)
Goal – Caddy
MoM – Jamie Martin
Referee – Michael Mannifield
Photos thanks to Alan Ball – www.thephotographyman.co.uk