Leigh Miners play their final game of the regular season on Saturday when they make the short trip over to St Helens to take on Thatto Heath Crusaders in Round 22 of the NCL Kingstone Press Cider Premier Division, Kick off 2-30pm at Close Street.
Miners go into Saturday’s game having won their second piece of silverware of 2015 last weekend when they beat Wath Brow Hornets 32-22 in the Conference Challenge Trophy final at The Select Security Stadium in Widnes. The victory being Miners third Challenge Trophy success in four years and with winning the league leaders shield the week previous for the first time in seven years, the players are determined to finish strong in the final few weeks of the season as they look to complete an historic treble for the club.
This week’s game will have no affect on table whatsoever, no matter the result with Miners having already claimed top spot and Thatto Heath being relegated stuck in eleventh position. Miners though won’t be treating this as a nothing game as they are looking to stretch their unbeaten run to eleven games, with the seventeen selected wanting a big performance so they can cement their place in the side for the massive playoff game against Siddal in a couple of weeks time.
With Allan Coleman away in Benidorm, Paul Whitworth makes four changes from the side that won the Conference Challenge Trophy last weekend, with Harry Gagen, Ellis Grimes, Mark Nicholson and Connor Ratcliffe coming in for Darryl Kay, Scott O’Brien and Tommy Parkinson who all picked up injuries in the final and either Connor Partington or Jonny Youds.
Looking back at last week’s Conference Challenge Trophy victory, coach Paul Whitworth said “Only good sides get to finals and it’s always about who turns up and performs the better on the day.”
“We had good preparation and I thought lifting the league leaders shield the weekend before took a little pressure off us.”
“It was a massive day for the club, one we really went out to enjoy and now we can all look back at with immense pride.”
“Wath Brow threw everything they had at us for the first 30 minutes but we handled that well enough to produce two consecutive 90 metre sets to go in front.”
“I think that resilience has been a big factor for us this year and will serve us well going into the play offs.”
“The players deserve every credit they are getting for their performances and getting to that moment on Sunday started way back in January training together on weekends at 8am.”
On this week’s final league game of the season, Whitworth added “This week is all about standing up to be counted. I’ll make changes this week, some enforced, some not, to give the rest of the squad the opportunity to stake a claim for a place as we approach the play-offs.”
“Thatto will re-group and look to put in a big final performance and the challenge for us is to stand up to that and take some momentum into the play offs.”
“I think we looked battle hardened in the final because we’ve played more games and gone the furthest in every competition this season so far and rather than this being a negative we see it as a positive going into this game.”
Thatto Heath have had a disappointing campaign by their standards with them having a few successful years in the Premier Division, this year they have struggled to find any real consistency and as a result have been relegated following a 16-10 defeat at bottom club Oulton Raiders a couple of weeks back.
When the teams met at the end of August, Miners toughed it out on a Thursday night at Twist Lane to win 35-22. The tries that evening coming from Tom Farrimond, Andrew Groves, Tommy Parkinson, Brad Hargreaves, Shaun Dowie and Connor Ratcliffe with Jonny Youds adding five goals and Jimmy Muir a late drop goal.
Leigh Miners second team have a free weekend.
Leigh Miners Ladies finished their season last weekend with some silverware after beating Brighouse Rangers 30-8 in the Women’s Rugby League Plate Final.