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Rivals’ sights on Miners’ crown
10:10pm Friday 27th September 2013 in Sport
LEIGH Miners Rangers defend their Conference Challenge Cup title against derby rivals Wigan St Patricks in the first of the three matches on Kingstone Press Championship finals day at Leigh Sports Village.
Sunday’s curtain-raiser, kicking off at 11.30am, pits the two old foes against each other in a showpiece setting for the first time in many a year.
Miners lifted the trophy in memorable circumstances against Egremont at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium last year but know that St Pats will provide the sternest of tests.
The two sides are separated by only a couple of points in the league standings and with the play-offs probably out of reach for both this represents a chance to end the season with some silverware.
St Pats, who include former Miners favourite Ryan Smith, edged the Leigh team out in the one league meeting between the two sides at Easter and led the table for long spells before hitting a tricky patch in mid-summer.
However, they reached the final by beating champions Wath Brow in Cumbria.
Miners were without a game at the weekend and that should allow for a strong squad to be recovered for the final.
The Leigh side have had home advantage in every previous round of the competition this year and will be looking to take that home atmosphere across the canal to the Sports Village.
One ticket, with prices starting at £15, gains entry to all three games in the rugby league extravaganza, which also includes the Kingstone Press Championship One Play-Off Final between Rochdale Hornets and Oldham at 2pm before the Kingstone Press Championship Grand Final between Sheffield Eagles and Batley Bulldogs at 4.30pm.
A fan zone will be running in front of Leigh Sports Village, where supporters of all ages can prove themselves with a series of rugby league skills, and take part in face painting and balloon modelling, jump on bouncy castles and have a photograph taken with the Rugby League World Cup trophy.
On the pitch, Batley Bulldogs are the surprise contenders in this year’s Grand Final – their first – after pulling off a golden point upset against Featherstone a week after knocking out Leigh Centurions.
John Kear’s side will take on defending champions Sheffield Eagles, who had no such drama in reaching their third successive Grand Final.
The 29-10 victory over Halifax on Thursday was never in doubt, and Mark Aston’s men will go into Sunday’s clash as firm favourites.
The Championship One Play-Off Final, which will hand automatic promotion to the victors, is a repeat of the 23-22 win by Rochdale against Oldham earlier in the series.
Tickets are available from from rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk.
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