It’s cup final day on Sunday when Leigh Miners travel over to Widnes to take on Wath Brow Hornets in the final of the Conference Challenge Trophy, Kick off 11.30am at The Select Security Stadium in what should be a cracker between two of the big guns and well respected sides in the amateur game.
The action on the Kingstone Press Championship Finals day continues at 2pm when Keighley Cougars take on Swinton Lions in the League 1 play-off final and finishes with the final of the Championship Shield at 4.30pm between Featherstone Rovers and the London Broncos.
Miners continued their best run of the season last weekend when they beat Hull Dockers 50-22 to make it nine wins on the trot. Starting the game like a house on fire in the opening twenty minutes to go 14-0 in front, before switching off and allowing Dockers to get on top and take a 16-14 lead into the half time interval. Miners again started strong in the second half, but unlike the first half this time they kept their foot on the accelerator to take control of the game and score some well worked team tries to get the win. After the final whistle Miners where presented with the 2015 league leaders trophy for finishing top of the Premier Division.
Ahead of Sunday’s final the preparation as been good in the build up to the big game with training being at WST gym on Tuesday and then on Thursday having the opportunity to train on the Widnes pitch to get a feel of the artificial surface, with it being the first time for most of the side of playing on this type of pitch. The club is looking forward to their third Challenge Trophy final appearance in what is another big day for Leigh Miners with the Ladies also being involved in the Women’s Plate Final at Bradford.
Coaches Allan Coleman and Paul Whitworth will have a virtually fully fit squad to choose from with Darryl Kay returning from a family holiday and Connor Ratcliffe back in training from an ankle injury, both being available for selection with the rest of the squad. Miners only injury concern is that of centre Adam Thomason who is expected to miss the game with a niggling knee injury.
On wrapping up the Premier Division league leaders trophy last weekend, joint coach Allan Coleman said “Last week was a fantastic day for our club, players and staff. We deserved what we got because we have been the most consistent team all year.”
“I can’t thank the players enough for there commitment they have been brilliant, we now look forward to a cup final and were going to enjoy the day.”
With Paul Whitworth adding “We started well and I thought we approached the game well, we had control for long periods.”
“For fifteen minutes Hull Dockers did show us why they deserve their play off position, it took some good play by their halves to break us down in that period.”
“We’ve had a really tough run in but kept believing when, at times, we was staring down a barrel of not coming top. After we secured the result we felt some of the pressure lift.”
“It was a great feeling to secure top of the pile after the hard work and commitment shown and we’re all proud of our achievements so far but there wasn’t really much celebrating. Focus went straight onto the challenge in front of us this week.”
Looking ahead to this Sunday’s final, Whitworth added “We have a good relationship with the people at Wath Brow and the upmost of respect for them, we know we will have to be at the very top of our game to get anything from this final.”
“We’ve had good preparation, a session in Warrior Strength Training and also chance to have a run on the Stadium pitch.”
“We’ve seen first hand how dangerous Wath Broe are and we expect to see the best of them and hopefully they will see the best of us.”
“As we approach the game we’ll be looking for the players who have competed in this final to draw on past experience to guide and motivate the players around them.”
“It’s important as coaches we keep the players relaxed and keep everything as normal as possible. Its a big occasion and we’re going there to enjoy ourselves.”
“Finally the Ladies team who are also playing in the Shield Final at Odsal at the sametime on Sunday. Its a pity we can’t be there to support them and I’m sure vice-versa. They are all doing a fantastic job in women’s rugby league and every one wishes them the best of luck.”
With Coleman commenting “Wath Brow are a great team and we will give them the respect they deserve.”
“We will focus on are strengths and play the way we know best.We have trained really well and are chomping at the bit ready for the game, looking to create a bit more history for our club.”
Wath Brow Hornets go into Sunday’s game on the back of a massive 70-6 home victory against East Leeds last Saturday, the win moving Brow into fourth position and they know if they can win one of their remaining two fixtures against Rochdale Mayfield and West Hull it will guarantee them at least one home tie in the playoffs which start in a couple of weeks.
Ian Rooney’s men have been no stranger to the big occasion in recent years and with making their first Challenge Trophy final this year it is the fourth successive year they have played at Widnes in a major final, having played in the last three NCL Grand Finals. The Hornets where also the last team to beat Miners back in July when they produced a scintillating performance to win 64-4 at home, which will no doubt give them added confidence as they look to take the Challenge Trophy back to Cumbria for the first time.
LEIGH MINERS RANGERS SQUAD
WATH BROW HORNETS SQUAD
ROUTE TO THE FINAL
Leigh Miners Rangers
Round 1 = 40-6 Underbank Rangers (Home)
Round 2 = 40-16 Millom (Away)
Quarter Final = 48-16 Wigan St Pats (Home)
Semi Final = 24-18 Thornhill Trojans (Home)
Wath Brow Hornets
Round 1 = 9-8 Thatto Heath (Away)
Round 2 = 22-16 West Hull (Home)
Quarter Final = 38-8 East Leeds (Home)
Semi Final = 28-10 Egremont Rangers (Home)
Leigh Miners second team are at home on Saturday against Golborne Parkside in the league knowing a victory over third place Golborne could go along way in securing runners up spot in Division Two, Kick off 2-30pm at Twist Lane.
Leigh Miners Ladies are also aiming to bring silverware back to Twist Lane on Sunday when they take on Brighouse Rangers in the Women’s Rugby League Plate Final, Kick off 11-30am at Provident Stadium in Bradford.