Rugby league: Leigh Miners 26 - 22 Mayfield
Date published: 04 May 2022
Photo: Aidy Gleeson Snr
Nick Hargreaves performed well at Leigh Miners
Coaches Sam Butterworth and Steve Wood must have been kicking themselves on Friday night as they named their team for this clash at Leigh Miners on Saturday 30 April. Just as the side has been performing well and producing some quality rugby, four players declared themselves unavailable, for this weekend's game.
A hasty reshuffle saw Mayfield make the journey with what, on paper, still looked like a strong team. Unfortunately this wasn't the case on the field in a poor game from two teams who put on an average performance at best. In Mayfield's defence, the four dropouts made a massive difference, in both ability on the pitch and just as importantly, morale.
The sides started well with Mayfield probably just edging it in the skill factor. A missed tackle in the middle though set the tone after 10 minutes and a converted try put the hosts in front 6 - 0.
Mayfield were soon back on level terms though after good work from Rob Kershaw and Nick Hargreaves saw the latter score a try converted by Lewis Butterworth, 6 - 6.
Minutes later a Fin Stewart break backed up by Dec Sheridan saw Jack McConnachie dummy his way over, Butterworth converted to put the visitors in front 6 - 10.
Mayfield looked strong at this point, repelling the Miners attack with some strong goal line defending. Si Moore, Corey Newsham and Butterworth made try saving tackles. Just when it looked like Mayfield were going to take control, the wheels fell off. They allowed the home side countless offloads in the tackle, didn't communicate in the middle and appeared to completely disregard the game plan. Miners capitalised on every error with their rangey winger reaching over from what looked like 10 yards out to level the scores. 10 - 10.
The same player was instrumental in the next score as he broke and kicked through for his pacey full back, who gratefully accepted the gift and scored under the sticks, 16 - 10.
Mayfields scrambling defence kept out any further scores in the first half and Shaun Hurley and Danny Dean worked hard in this period.
The half time break seemed to suit Mayfield as they narrowed the deficit in the first set after the restart with a try in the corner from Fin Stewart, 16 - 14.
Butterworth's side showed some decent touches in a good 20 minute spell but failed to to take the lead after two knock-ons over the line. Young Ben Metcalfe was particularly impressive as he continued to stake his claim for a regular spot in the team. Typically though a soft penalty put Miners on the Mayfield line and they crossed with ease for a converted score, 22 -14.
They would have gone further ahead but for another Lewis Butterworth try saver. With 20 minutes to go Mayfield were down to 12 after Sheridan back chatted the ref. As often happens in these circumstances the team lifted their game to compensate and were rewarded when McConnachie put Connolly through for a try which Connolly went on to convert. 22 - 20.
Mayfield were then awarded a pen under the sticks which Connolly again popped over to level the game, 22 - 22.
Miners pushed back and rode their luck after a poor kick rebounded off a Mayfield player straight into the hands of the home winger who crossed in the corner for the final score 26 - 22.
Mayfield tried hard to get back and were desperately unlucky after a 50 metre Sheridan break saw Connolly held up on the line.
The whistle ended Mayfield's hopes of a win and the dejected Rochdale lads were left to contemplate what was two points thrown away. There were some decent performances on the day as Fin Stewart continued an impressive start at Mayfield, Hargreaves and Si Moore were particularly strong and Ben Metcalfe showed some class touches. All in all though it was an opportunity lost and a case of 'must do better'.
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