Leigh Miners Rangers v Methley Royals, BARLA National Cup Round One

Due to the weather I had to abandon my original plan of covering the local football match between Atherton Colls and Daisy Hill which had succumb to a waterlogged pitch,after some searching online I found this game was fine and with my tickets for the Rugby League World Cup all bought I decided to cover this game and get me some much needed match practise for later in the year.

Today the match was switched from Leigh’s traditional home of Twist Lane to Sutton Park just off Manchester Road and next to the factory of Waterfields Bakery (other bakeries available and plenty in Leigh!) due to maintenance work going on and Sutton Park is normally where the junior section play but today the bigger boys were on the turf.

It was the first competitive game of the season for Leigh today against Methley Royals who are based in amongst the bigger RL places of Leeds,Wakefield and Castleford so its fair to say they have most of their matches watched by their respective scouts to see if any talented youngsters are on the way through and could make the grade at higher level.

The first half commenced on what looked a heavy surface but one you would not mind being tackled on compared to a firmer sunny one and both teams seemed to feeling the other one out,the best early attempt came to Leigh on about 18mins when Steven Marsh dropped a fairly simple pass to go in at the corner no doubt to the Royals they were breathing a sigh of relief when he let go.

It took till the 23rd min for the first points of the day when Leigh who were in possession went for a high kick on the last tackle but this was caught by Full Back David Williams of Methley who caught in his own try line then came out did a quick tap restart and promptly scooted through the Leigh defence and did a full length dash to get the ball over the try line and Alan White followed the easy conversion 0-6.

Just six minutes later after some useful play Andrew Hodson  got Leigh back in the game going over the line but as was proved to be a hindrance later on Leigh missed the conversion following the try so the scores were now 4-6.

More play carried on and as half time was slowly approaching and the rain was falling on the good couple of hundred people who turned out for this and the home team would be happy to go in with this score but it was the visitors who got a psychological edge on 35mins by Stuart Biscomb who got his hand on over the try line followed by a kick through the defence on the fifth tackle and again Alan White duly topped up the extra two points so going in at half time it was Leigh MR 4-Methley Royals 12.

Second half came and it took Leigh all of seven minutes to get back in the game when Sean Pendlebury scored in the corner of the clubhouse end but as again with the first try the conversion got missed so the score was now 8-12.

Royals responded and on the 54th min and winger Josh Dixon went very wide through the Leigh defence and managed to avoid some tackles and got the ball down next to the sticks and yet again Alan White put the ball between the posts to make it 8-18.

More attacking from both teams carried on as the game continued and the Royals incredibly well built Second Row Dale Cogan who was built like the proverbial Brick Privvy powered through the defence on a fifty meter charge on the fifth tackle and it took about three players to finally bring him to ground for the handover.

Getting onto the 70th min and Leigh got a restart after Todd Appleby was brought down and the switch of play out to the left resulted in Sean Pendlebury getting his second try and this meant Leigh were back in the game but alas the conversion got missed so this now made it 12-18.

However the Royals dealt their hosts a cruel blow when they effectively made sure the win was in the bag with a drop goal on the 78th min which made up for the one they missed just a few minutes before this one by Scrum Half Andy Speake who must have felt like Johnny Wilkinson by winning a match in this style.

So an enjoyable match, not the classiest teams but this is the amateur level of the game and a whole world away from Super League and Championship rugby but for £2.50 and a free programme included it is a nice enough way to spend an afternoon.

Looking at players for the future I would heartily recommend the Methley Royals Full Back young David Williams, only Sixteen and has plenty of pace on him, would not surprise me if he gets picked up by a higher quality team and loaned out at Championship level in the years to come.

Full Time Leigh Miners Rangers 12 Methley Royals 19.

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