LEIGH MINERS RANGERS 12 LEIGH EAST 22
By Dave Parkinson
A highlight of the local rugby league scene in Leigh is the now traditional “Street of Origin” games between keen local rivals Leigh Miners Rangers and Leigh East. This game was no different with bone crunching tackles and guts aplenty from both teams with Leigh East eventually trumping Miners for the first time in seven years.
Miners forced a drop out from the first set of the game and went close to opening the scoring when the scheming Scott O’Brien kicked for Ryan Cosgrove only for the difficult chance to be lost. At the other end, Leigh East tried to settle into a rhythm but Danny Kilshaw saw his pass intercepted by Danny Jones.
East continued their good form to keep the pressure on and saw a try disallowed in the tenth minute when Adam Holland and Kilshaw linked with Gary Middlehurst and although Mark Ballard touched down, the final pass from Middlehurst was ruled forward.
Spirited play from the hosts saw them trap East in their own half and when Kilshaw kicked out on the full, Miners went into attack mode. The hosts went close to the line with Ross Bradley denied but Easts could not keep Scott O’Brien out as he jinked in for his 20th try of the season. Tom Bradbury converted and Miners led 6-0 after 16 minutes.
At this stage it was Miners that had the better of play as they forced a mistake from Holland but Easts were never out of the contest and after Steve Ormesher was stopped by four players, a quick play-the-ball released Mark Ballard from dummy half and Adrian Dootson goaled.
Martin Lewis suffered an injury for Leigh Miners which hampered progress while Ryan Smith dummied and nearly broke. The hosts had a chance to take the lead after 37 minutes when a clever kick by O’Brien was taken and touched down by Adam Thomason but the backrower was penalised for offside. On the stroke of half-time, Miners were penalised for an over enthusiastic tackle on Kevin Murphy and Dootson struck a difficult penalty from an acute angle and distance to nudge the visitors in front, 8-6.
That set up an intense second half and the hosts made a wonderful start when O’Brien and Smith linked together for prop Craig Connor to storm into a hole and offload for Thomason. Bradbury again stroked the conversion between the posts and Miners led 12-8 after 44 minutes.
Sadly for the Twist Lane side, injuries forced Daryl Kay from the field and in his absence, Easts pack turned things around. First Lyndon Robertson burst through from Kilshaw’s pass and although Bradley saw another tried denied by an offside call. Tom Eckersley gave a silly penalty away and from the resulting possession former Warrington Wizards player Jono Smith drove over from close range and converted to open an eight point advantage.
Leigh East then missed a penalty attempt at goal after more ill discipline from Eckersley as try as they like, Miners could not get through.
A strong break from Kilshaw launched another attack for the visitors but Robertson was denied a second while Holland was held up over the try-line.
Despite seeing their advantage increased by a Smith penalty, East could never rest easy and with O’Brien trying every trick in his box of tricks, Miners were never truly out of the contest until the referee blew for full-time after a whopping eight minutes of extra-time.
Leigh Miners: Hayden Bud Skinkis, Ryan Cosgrove, Martin Lewis, Tom Bradbury, Daryl Flannery; Scott O’Brien, Ryan Smith; Craig Connor, Danny Jones, Daryl Kay, Lee Gittens, Ross Bradley, Adam Thomason. Subs: Joe Harrison, James Muir, Mick Whiteside, Tom Eckersley.
Tries: O’Brien (16), Thomason (44).
Goals: Bradbury 2/2.
Leigh East: Mark Kay, Kevin Murphy, Carl Redford, Adrian Dootson, Paul Wilcock; Danny Kilshaw, Adam Holland; Steve Ormesher, Mark Ballard, Lee Rowley, John Taylor, Dave Radley, Gary Middlehurst. Subs: Jono Smith, Lyndon Robertson, Simon Warhurst, Jon Walker.
Tries: Ballard (29), Robertson (51), Smith (58)
Goals: Dootson 3/4, Smith 2/2.
Referee: Mr A Gill.
Penalty Count: 12-13.