Miners’ winning run comes to an end

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Egremont 40 Leigh Miners Rangers 30

LEIGH Miners Rangers’ unbeaten league record was surrendered in this high-scoring thriller at Egremont.

In bright Cumbrian sunshine Miners paid the price for a disastrous second quarter, trailing 28-4 at the break as Egremont’s kicking game produced five tries, and although the visitors rallied to within eight points in the closing stages they couldn’t quite maintain the momentum to take them over the finishing line as Egremont clung on for victory.

Miners opened positively and enjoyed total dominance in the opening 15 minutes, although their only reward came when Scott O’Brien stretched through the tackles to touch down for a 4-0 lead.

Other half chances came and went and on their first attack Egremont snatched the lead, gaining an attacking scrum after Miners fumbled a kick through and from the position the ball whipped left for Pete Bewsher to power over. That became a recurrent theme as Miners’ inability to deal with the home side’s kicks continually surrendered possession in dangerous areas, with Egremont only too eager to take advantage.

Another fumble and another scrum set the position for Leon Crellin to cut in out wide, then from another error Egremont had the opportunity for Rhys Davies to slice through. Worse was to come as another kick through bounced away from the fullback and sat up perfectly for Matt Bewsher, leading the horde of Egremont chasers, to gather and storm over the line unopposed.

In the dying minutes of the half and a final ignominy as a Miners attack broke down near the Egremont line and the ball was hacked on a wild chase downfield, hoofed ahead three or four times and while Miners had a legitimate shout for their covering defender Adam Thomason being shoved away off the ball, play was waved on and Kevin Barnes had the final word, gathering the ball some 80 metres after it had last touched a hand to touch down for that commanding half time lead.

As woeful as that second quarter had been, Miners knew that if they could open positively after the interval, playing down an Egremont slope which is still substantial despite the pitch renovations carried out at Gillfoot Park over the last year, they could yet earn something from the game. They grabbed that all-important first score as Adam Thomason darted in out wide, and although Egremont responded when Mal Caton offloaded for Matt Bewsher to grab his second the visitors were undaunted. More fine rugby saw the outstanding Mick O’Boyle score out wide before the loose-forward grabbed his second, blasting through at pace and bursting the tackle to score beside the posts.

When Brad Hargreaves got the ball down at the corner Miners were thoroughly in contention with plenty of time remaining and just ten points between the sides, but Egremont crucially regained possession from the restart and enjoyed a spell of pressure which culminated with Kieran Glenn touching down. Still Miners weren’t finished and another spirited effort saw Shaun Dowie take on the defensive line and cut through for a try but Egremont had enough of a cushion and Miners’ afternoon was further soured by the dismissals of Ellis Grimes and Jonny Youds for dissent, either side of Ross Brookes’ penalty on the final whistle.

The Alliance side enjoyed a handsome win over Oldham St Annes 52-14 whilst the under-18s vanquished the same opponents 28-22 in a thriller on Sunday. The women’s team went down to a heavy home defeat to Normanton.

+ This Saturday the first team travel to Lock Lane whilst the Alliance host Woolston Rovers (2.30pm). On Sunday the women’s team travel to old rivals Wigan St Patrick’s while the under-18s are on the road again, at Portico Vine.