LEIGH Miners Rangers made a poor start to their NCL Premier Division campaign as fellow returnees Lock Lane recorded another comprehensive Twist Lane victory.

Miners would have known in advance what a stern challenge awaits in the top flight of the amateur game and the scale of that challenge was underlined by a clinical Lane team who took their chances with ruthless precision and blunted Miners’ attacking efforts during this sobering eighty minutes.

Miners had started the better side with plenty of enthusiasm and strong running as young Liam Kenyon ran hard and Lee Hudson impressed on debut with his sniping runs from acting half whilst Jake Lloyd dealt well with the questions asked of him at fullback, but for all their encouragement Miners couldn’t find a way through and were then hit with a double whammy midway through the half as Lane struck twice, first when they built from a Miners’ handling error to exert pressure and put Tommy Sowerby over at the left corner and then within minutes a bomb from Dan Sowerby bounced wickedly for opposite winger Connor Turner to regather and saunter in for a converted score and 10-0.

Miners were stunned but rallied towards half time and ended the half with hope as Andy Philbin rumbled over the tryline on the last tackle to leave Miners in contention at 10-4.

The hosts needed a positive start to the second half but were undone within minutes of the restart as they again turned possession over inside their own half and from that platform Lane built to open a gap out wide for Cory Southern to charge through.

Miners felt they had a strong case to narrow the gap again though as Adam Thomason stepped inside but as he was about to dive for the line he was felled by a high shot from the Lane player, referee Alan Billington awarding the sin-binning but not the penalty try many on the home side felt should have been the case.

Lane though weren’t about to be dealing in ifs, buts and maybes and after repelling the Miners’ pressure they struck again despite the man disadvantage as Tom Sowerby capitalised on hesitancy after another kick through from brother Danny to give Lane clear daylight.

The tries flowed at regular intervals thereafter as Lane’s threequarters helped themselves to the scores and Miners, for all the honest endeavour of Stuart Johnson, Darryl Kay and Louis Brogan, lacked spark with ball in hand.

They did have a late score as Lane became demob happy, Jack Reynolds onto a loose pass on half way and putting Deacon Monks away to score a six-pointer, but Miners didn’t even have the consolation of the final word as Danny Sowerby grabbed the try his efforts deserved as he sliced through for the final action of the game.

Miners have a fortnight to regroup before the trip to champions Hunslet Parkside on 16 March.

The Alliance team lost narrowly at Bury in their season opener whilst the girls’ teams recorded a win and a loss against Orrell and for the under-16s a successful trip to Cutsyke.