In a proverbial game of two halves, Leigh Miners Rangers recovered from an 18-6 deficit after twenty-three minutes to win handsomely in the end.
The result all but relegates York Acorn from the National Conference but for fifty minutes this was a real contest with Jon Liddell, Andy Gargan, Kein Brayshaw and Tom Hill all showing up well.
Acorn slipped through for the first try of the game after seven minutes when a pass in midfield missed two men and Brayshaw scurried through for Hill to goal. The visitors positive start continued when a swirling kick from Hill put pressure on Miners but John Waldron could not take the catch cleanly.
With their forwards running strongly and their backline proving elusive, Acorn were impressive and landed their second try when former Leeds, Hunslet and York player Jon Liddell finished flowing approach work from Brayshaw and Hill. Hill goaled and despite the hosts pulling a try back through Adam Thomason after a good run by Ross Bradley, Acorn increased their advantage when Brayshaw cleverly switched play for Liddell to claim his second try.
This seemed to spark Miners into action and Scott O’Brien claimed a fortuitous try after a Martin Lewis offload and the pair were at the heart of the next move on the half-hour mark that led to substitute Jimmy Muir galloping to the line.
Once more York Acorn went on the attack and particularly the drives of Daryl North and Martin McTigue created a platform. Hills then missed a penalty but the visitors continued their positive end to the half without posting further points.
Galvanised, Leigh Miners Ranges emerged from the dressing room with a new found belief and the second half, particularly the last twenty minutes, showed why they are heavily fancied to finish in a play-off position.
The start of the second half saw Miners find their rhythmn early and good hands saw Lee Gittens and Thomason combine before Tom Bradbury touched down on the left and the centre then tagged on the difficult conversion to put the hosts in front for the first time. As Acorn built a promising attack, a loose ball was scooped up by home scrum-half Ryan Smith and he sprinted out of reach from 80 metres to turn the game.
Still the visitors battled away and Liddell was denied a hat-trick when pulled back for a forward pass. Acorn looked set to add to their points tally a couple of minutes later when Lee Frank, Hill and Joe Budd were involved in the build-up, only for North to spill the ball with the line beckoning.
Mesmerising hands from Leigh Miners took them upfield but the chance was lost as first Bradley was held and then the otherwise excellent Daryl Kay spilled a pass.
When the hosts found their scoring groove it was worth the wait and they swept away a brave Acorn challenge with SIX tries in the final twenty minutes. The introduction of Joe Harrison at hooker sparked things and the youngster diced over from dummy half on the hour. He then ran from dummy half again and Kay found Bradbury lurking for his second try.
Virtually from the restart, Smith spotted a gap in the defence and broke through to draw Budd and send the supporting Lee Gittens to the line from thirty metres.
Acorn responded gamely but Steve Mackley was put into touch and Miners roared further away from their visitors with three tries in the final ten minutes. First Lewis cut through from a scrum and then O’Brien’s footwork took him beyond four players and over the line for his second before Lewis crowned a second half performance of some magnitude with his second and his sides 11th of the game. Bradbury tagged on his 9th goal to make certain a 26 point haul.
LEIGH MINERS RANGERS: Haydn Bud Skinkis, Alistair Peters, Martin Lewis, Tom Bradbury, Daryl Flannery; Scott O’Brien, Ryan Smith; Craig Connor, Danny Jones, Darryl Kay, Lee Gittens, Ross Bradley, Adam Thomason. Subs: Joe Harrison, Jimmy Muir, Mick Whiteside, Tom Eckersley.
Tries: Thomason (17), O’Brien (26, 77), Muir (30), Bradbury (42, 62), Smith (47), Harrison (60), Gittens (64), Lewis (69, 79).
Goals: Bradbury 9/11.
YORK ACORN: Joe Budd, Steve Mackley, John Waldron, Karl Horton, James Cooper; Jon Liddell, Andy Gargan; Danny Caldwell, Kevin Brayshaw, Adam Endersby, Lee Frank, Jamie Dodds, Tom Hill. Subs: Darryl North, Martin McTigue, James Bromwich, Dean Crump.
Tries: Brayshaw (7) , Liddell (13, 23).
Goals: Hill 3/4.
Halftime: 16-18 to York Acorn.