Miners Rangers picked up a welcome first win of 2012 with this hard-fought success against local rivals Rose Bridge in front of a large Friday night crowd at Twist Lane. It was a win built on the back of a sterling defensive effort, typified by two second-half try-saving tackles from full-back Sean Pendlebury, as the visitors – fresh from their opening day hammering of Saddleworth – enjoyed long spells of possession and territory but without scoring the points to underline that dominance.
They were made to pay for their profligacy as Miners finished in rousing fashion, sneaking their noses in front with 15 minutes remaining and then rampant in the final quarter as they swept in for four tries.
For long spells this was a scrappy game as both sides made handling errors, but it was gripping and tense stuff notwithstanding and Miners made the early breakthrough as Tom Farrimond and Martin Lewis combined to put Dan Ogden stretching out to score at the corner.
Rose Bridge hit back and they took the front as Tony Baker exposed a gap in Miners’ defence for Wayne Leyland to race through and turn back inside for Baker to claim the try, Kenny Baker with the conversion.
Right on the interval as Miners retook the lead, when Scott O’Brien sent the outstanding Shaun Marsh scattering the defenders and charging under the posts, O’Brien goaling for 10-6.
Bridge though responded positively and for much of the opening 15 minutes after half time they were camped in the Miners’ half, some sterling defence most notably from Pendlebury to deny Winstanley, and associated handling errors ensuring their only reward was a try for Winstanley created by Tony Baker and goaled by Kenny Baker, for a two point lead.
That advantage was wiped out as Miners came on strong in the final quarter, led by Ross Bradley with two well-taken tries, the first coming off good hands by Craig Connor and Adam Thomason, the second when O’Brien kicked behind the defence and Bradley juggled the ball over his head before gathering to score for a 20-12 lead. Then came the second of Pendlebury’s try-savers, a crunching tackle to send the ball flying from Ryan Eccleston’s hands as he raced for the line. Miners never looked back from that moment and scored two further tries in the closing stages, Farrimond with a tremendous break from acting half and feeding the supporting Darryl Flannery for the try, then some fine improvised play, Bradley hacking on a loose ball on half way and picking up on the line for O’Brien to in turn send Steve Kenny under the posts for the home side’s sixth try. Deep into stoppage time Bridge claimed a consolation score, Sanby scoring on the overlap after Miners lost possession in their own half, but it was the final action of the game and the home side were up and running for the season.
The Alliance side were without a fixture as scheduled opponents Portico Panthers were unable to raise a team.
The women’s team picked up their first win of the season with a resounding 44-12 success against Yorkshire visitors West Craven.
This weekend the first team and women are without a game. The second team travel to a Rochdale Mayfield side who were the only team to blot their copybook during the 2011 interim campaign.
The U18s host Wigan St Judes at Twist Lane on Sunday, March 25, 1.30pm ko.