Leigh Miners Ladies 40 Rochdale Hornets 16

THE ladies started their home campaign with a hard-fought victory against the newly-established Rochdale team, in a game which saw 16-year-old Rachel Stott make her debut.

The opening exchanges were even with both sides having early chances to open the scoring, but it was eventually Rochdale who opened the scoring when their prop forward squeezed over the line from close range, the conversion was added to give the visitors a 6-0 lead.

The miners responded well with Clare Thompson finding a gap in the line to go over for a try.

Rochdale collected the ball from their own kick-off and were pressing for the next try, with three consecutive sets on the miners line, the miners defence stood firm and when the ball went to ground, Clare Thompson swooped on the ball and ran the full length of the pitch, touching down under the posts.

Emily Mullen added the conversion to put the ladies 10-6 in front.

With half time approaching tries in quick succession from Rachel Thompson and Keli Morris gave the miners a 20-6 lead at the break.

The miners were caught napping at the start of the second half, when Rochdale once again collected the ball from their own kick-off, scoring from the resulting set of six.

Miners restored their advantage with Rachel Thompson benefiting from strong attacking play on the right edge to score two tries in quick succession.

Emily Mullen scored next, picking the ball up from acting half back, sidestepping a defender and going half the length of the pitch to score under the post, Emily added the conversion to take the score to 34-10.

Rochdale who refused to give up score a converted try before hard working prop Carly Crowther crashed over the line in the final play of the game, Mullen converted once again to give a final score of 40 -16.

In his post-match speech, coach Phil Irish singled out, the length of the field try from Clare Thompson as a game-changing moment, and highlighted the work of the pack, with special mention to Megan Eastwood who made a big impact when introduced from the bench.

Rachel Thompson was awarded player of the match for her hat-trick of tries, which was all the more remarkable as she had spent the previous day attending trials for England students, with team mates Mairead Quinn and Rachel Scott in Nottingham.

Final score 40-16, half time 20-6.

Tries from Rachel Thompson, three, Clare Thompson, two, Emily Mullen, Keli Morris, Carly Crowther.

Conversions Emily Mullen, four.

Player-of-the-match Rachel Thompson.