Leigh Miners Rangers 42 Wigan St Patricks 12
Miners Rangers retained their Conference Challenge Trophy crown with this resounding derby triumph over Wigan St Patricks.
In fine conditions at Leigh Sports Village the Leigh side turned in a performance where defence and attack fused to perfection as they first absorbed everything their opponents could throw at them in an intense first half before running riot after the interval to complete the defence of their cup title and make it their third success in this competition (and its 1980s predecessor).
Pats certainly played their part, particularly in the first half as they threw absolutely everything at the Miners’ defence, penning their opponents back in their own 20 and pounding at the line.
Sean MacDonald, Scott O’Brien and the returning Lee Gittins led a magnificent defensive effort and the only breakthrough the Wiganers could conjure came in bizarre circumstances, the otherwise faultless Jonny Youds trying to clear a kick from his in-goal but instead losing possession and Anthony Griffiths pouncing to score, Brad Smith goaling. Midway through the half Miners relieved the pressure as the outstanding Jimmy Muir broke on half way and put Gittins galloping clear, the stand-off following to receive the return pass and finish off, Youds levelling with the conversion.
Given all their territory Pats would have been mystified to go into the half-time break on level terms, so it can only be imagined how they felt to go in in arrears, Miners scoring in the final minute of the half as they won a scrum near the Pats line and Youds cut through out wide for 10-6.
Nine minutes into the second half and Pats were level as they continued to mount pressure, Phil Glover scoring at the left corner. But straight from the kick-off Miners regained the lead, Tony Doyle doing well to steal possession back and play moved right for Youds to burst through a gap and score at the corner, converting the try himself.
Round the hour mark and two more Miners tries opened a commanding 28-10 lead, both scored by captain and eventual man of the match O’Brien.
Pats registered another try when Anthony Atherton chipped the line and regathered before putting Matt Charnock in at the corner but Miners finished strongly, Youds with a penalty and then two more conversions, the first when Doyle bolted through a gap close to the line and then when Andrew Groves finished off.
This Saturday Miners and Pats do it all again in a league game, 1pm kick-off at Twist Lane.