Thatto Heath 25 Leigh Miners Rangers 18

MINERS Rangers’ National Conference League campaign got off to a losing start against title contenders Thatto Heath but the encouraging performance affords plenty of hope for the year to come.

Leigh dominated the game for more than an hour before finally succumbing as Thatto built up a head of steam.

With Darryl Kay enjoying an immense game in the front row, Aaron Gorton showing well from the bench, debutant Jack Probert with a strong display on the wing and some enterprising play in attack and defence, Miners were good value for the 18-10 advantage they had established going into the last 20 minutes but a string of penalties gave Crusaders the chance to turn the tables.

Miners had opened with plenty of purpose, and some neat passing saw Kieron Eccleston put Shaun MacDonald over out wide, Eccleston adding the extras.

Ellis Grimes burst on to a tapped penalty just inside the Thatto half, broke the first line of defence and stormed away to the posts for the second try, Eccleston again goaling.

Thatto rallied with two tries to trail 12-10 but Miners re-established their advantage early in the second half as Probert finished off out wide and Eccleston landed a penalty.

But Miners’ discipline proved their downfall as penalties gave Thatto the territory for two further tries and a drop goal to round things off.

This Saturday the first team entertain Sidall in Twist Lane’s league opener, kick off 2.30pm.