LEIGH Miners Rangers moved two points clear of the pack in third place with this thrilling televised victory against fellow high-flyers Milford Marlins at Twist Lane.

With the two sides neck-and-neck in the standings and in fine form going into the game the TV cameras of Rugby AM anticipated a good contest but were truly spoiled with this display from both teams with the result in doubt until the very last play. Miners dominated the first half with their finest rugby of the season but only held an 11-0 interval lead as Milford scrambled defensively.

Todd Fenlon finished off neatly at the corner flag to celebrate his nineteenth birthday in fine style with Jack Reynolds adding the conversion before Adam Thomason stretched out of the tackle to plant the ball down for a second Miners’ try.

The hosts also had to scrap in defence, protecting their try line with ferocious intent as a couple of seemingly-certain try-scoring opportunities for the visitors were somehow denied, but overall this was very much Miners’ half and Craig Ashall’s dropped goal on the half time whistle for 11-0 was scant reflection of that dominance.

The second half opened with Miners looking for what might be a killer score but some long-range breaks were thwarted by Milford’s desperate defence before the visitors forged a way back into the game.

First Andy Barker broke down the middle and found the outstanding Josh Sunley in support to finish off and then Josh Nathaniel capitalised on a spilled bomb to finish off out wide, Jacob Skinner adding both conversions to put the visitors ahead for the first time.

Miners though rallied again and regained the lead when Ashall, a fine game at stand-off, dived over the line following some strong approach play.

That sparked a flurry of points as Miners finished strongly, further tries coming from Deacon Monks to finish a fine passing move and then a blockbusting effort from man-of-the-match Joe Connor as he batted away the defenders to touch down.

Those points though proved crucial as Milford came strongly themselves with late tries for Zak Snellgrove and the Ukraine international Yevheni Trusov to set up a grandstand finish as Miners held on to win.

The under-18s saw off Shevington in another thriller, 28-26.

There are some big games home and away this weekend, on Saturday the Alliance host Latchford 2.30pm whilst the first team travel to Ince Rose Bridge.

On Sunday the under-18s are in the National Cup semi-final against Lock Lane at Twist Lane, 1pm KO with the women away at Barrow.