Thatto Heath 38 Leigh Miners Rangers 6
Miners Rangers’ first team season ended in the elimination play-offs as a slick Thatto Heath side showed they intend to defend their championship to the last with this comfortable win. A run of six games in 20 days since their cup final win has clearly told on Miners and their patched-up and bruised side found this a game too far in what has been a successful and enjoyable 2012 season. Heath led 28-0 at the break after cutting through the Miners’ defence with some powerhouse rugby and the pace of the likes of BARLA U18s star Jack Jones and the league’s perennial top tryscorer Darren Woods in the backs to take full advantage. Miners had their moments, Scott O’Brien breaking clear and finding Jimmy Muir in support only for the return pass to go to ground, and Gareth Paine bundled into touch as he gathered O’Brien’s kick near the line, but in truth these were fleeting opportunities as the Crusaders otherwise dominated.
The second half brought a commendable tightening of the defence as Jonny Carroll and Darryl Kay helped batten down the hatches and indeed Miners enjoyed far more of the ball after the break but their only score was engineered by Thatto, former Leigh hooker Kieron Maddocks blotting an otherwise impressive copybook with an intercepted pass on half-way and Muir going clear to score, Jonny Youds goaling.The result couldn’t take the gloss off what has been a hugely successful season for the club with the first team finishing fifth in the league, just three points off the top, and winning the inaugural Conference Cup, whilst the women’s team lifted the WRL Plate at Widnes. The Alliance team meanwhile can claim promotion to the North West Division One if they win one of their last two games, against Latchford Albion on Wednesday 31st or at Leyland later in the month.