NCL Grand Final: Siddal crush Miners to claim amateur game’s top prize

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Siddal comprehensively atoned for last season’s NCL Grand Final defeat with a near-flawless demolition of Leigh Miners Rangers.

Gareth Greenwood’s side ran out 42-4 winners on a misty autumnal afternoon at Widnes’ Halton Stadium, recording both the biggest winning margin and the highest points total in the competition’s history.

It was a staggering display of superiority from a team that topped the table by six clear points, with prop Iain Davies scoring three tries from the bench as the Chevinedge club’s forwards trampled their opponents underfoot.

Siddal led 18-0 at the break, 24-0 early in the second half, and never once looked like releasing the reigning champions from a vice like grip.

They were a dominant force from the first minute, when Miners only just avoided losing possession straight from the kick off.

With their forwards rolling relentlessly downfield on the back of quick play the balls, their opponents were back pedalling immediately and it was no real surprise when Siddal half back Kyle Ackroyd slipped through a gap 10 metres out to open the scoring after eight minutes.

Gavin Stead converted and Siddal were almost over again from the restart, Stead just being hauled into touch by the last defender after a 50 metre burst down the sideline.

Towering back rower Tom Garratt was held up just short as Siddal continued to ratchet up the pressure and it wasn’t until close to the half hour that Leigh enjoyed any attacking position of any significance, winning four straight penalties and forcing a drop out as Greenwood’s side came under real pressure.

Their response was some steely determined defence, followed by a counter attack sparked by replacement hooker Sean McCormack’s dart down the middle of the field and finished, a handful of plays later, by a rampaging Davies.

Stead kicked his second conversion for a 12-0 lead than finally, and deservedly, became 18-0 just before the break when Davies grabbed his second, reeling in an offload and then running straight over the top of three defenders to score by the posts, leaving the excellent Stead with the easiest of kicks.

Any expectation Miners may have had of repeating last year’s Lazarus act was scotched four minutes after the interval, Shaun Garrod scoring a typical solo try that left Miners’ right side defence in tatters.

Stead’s conversion pushed the lead out to 24-0 and although Miners finally got on the scoresheet through full back William Ashworth, there was never any sign of a Siddal wobble.

McCormack scored from a super Gareth English offload with 18 minutes left, before Davies barged over for a hat trick three minutes later, Stead’s immaculate kicking opening a definitively decisive 36-4 lead.

Siddal were denied Gareth Blackburn’s try was chalked off after the impressive Zak McComb was adjudged offside from a Garrod kick, but they iced the victory cake with the final play of the game, young forward Jack Georgiou diving in after Garrod and full back Freddy Walker split a weary defence.

Siddal: Walker, Blackburn, McComb, White, Stead; Garrod, Ackroyd; Ambler, Sanderson, Smith, Hinsley, Garratt, Smithies. Subs: McCormack, Georgiou, Davies, English

Leigh Miners Rangers: Ashworth; Fenlon, Gittins, Peet, Crompton; Groves, O’Brien; Gray, Farrimond, Kay, Nicholson, Cox, O’Boyle. Subs: Hellam, Astley, Bower, Digby

Referee: Greg Dolan