Wath Brow claimed their first Minor Premiership whilst Miners Rangers finished fifth as the most dramatic of final days in the NCL league season came to a climax at Twist Lane.
Going into the final round of games any one of four teams – including Miners – had a chance of finishing top of the table but ultimately they were undone by a powerful all round display by a determined Brow side who were expertly led by the former Whitehaven veteran Leroy Joe. Joe it was who claimed what proved the winning try although Miners staged a tremendous late rally from 22-10 down to get within four points before time ran out on the home side. Miners were well served by Darryl Kay, Lee Gittins and Jonny Carroll although the whole team deserve the plaudits for negotiating the most demanding of run-ins with six games in twenty days at the season climax. Now they enter knock-out rugby in the play-offs starting with a trip to champions Thatto Heath this weekend.
Miners opened brightly and opened the scoring after just three minutes with a bizarre try, Josh Ward kicking downfield and Brow fullback Ryan Amor fielding the kick on his own line but then playing the ball without anyone in place at acting half, allowing the quick-thinking Ross Bradley to nip round from marker and touch down, Ward goaling for the perfect start. However Brow were soon back in the game through Peter Caddy, himself culpable for the Miners try, as he swept in at the corner from some good passing along the line. Defences dominated in this gripping game but Brow were enjoying more of the ball and they went ahead for the first time with Caddy’s second try off the impressive centre Francis King and 10-6 at the break.
Miners needed the next try and that arrived within two minutes of the restart, Sean Pendlebury sliding in at the right corner to level matters up, and the home side appeared to be getting on top but were unable to find a way through the Cumbrian defence. Instead it was Brow who struck twice in quick succession to open a commanding lead with tries for James Toman and the old stager Joe. Miners launched a late hurrah and scored in the closing minutes through Carroll and Gareth Pain but it was just too late to pull a famous win out of the bag. Notwithstanding that setback it has been a fine campaign for the Miners with fifth place and an eventual finish just three points behind the league winners a highly commendable effort especially given their additional cup exploits.
The play-offs remain the focus and Miners will travel to Thatto on Saturday.
The Alliance team meanwhile can make a significant step towards promotion if they can beat Haresfinch this weekend, 2.30pm.
The club are also holding a Hallowe’en family fun night and disco at the club this Saturday from 7pm.