Rangers collide in Challenge Trophy Final
Leigh Miners Rangers and Egremont Rangers clash in the inaugural Conference Challenge Trophy Final on Sunday with both clubs keen to do their towns proud on the big stage.
The final kicks off at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington, at 11.30am and is the first of the three-game Co-operative Championship Finals Day extravaganza that also includes the Championship One and Championship Grand Finals.
Leigh Miners Rangers have battled their way past Stanley Rangers, Wigan St Judes, Leigh East, Wath Brow Hornets and Bradford Dudley Hill to reach the final clash with Cumbrian side Egremont Rangers.
On paper the Miners will start as favourites, if only because of their Premier division status in the Hatton’s Solicitors National Conference League, whilst Egremont are in Division One.
But that league placing is irrelevant as Wigan St.Patricks can testify, after Egremont dispatched them in style in the semi-finals to book their first final in almost 20 years.
In fact Siddal had been accounted for in the previous round and along the way Castleford Panthers and East Leeds were also summarily despatched.
Yet with the Miners last lifting a trophy when winning the NCL Grand Final in 2005, it is clear that this match will mean everything to both clubs and that is confirmed by one of the Miners coaching team, Allan Coleman.
“It’s a massive game for us,” said Coleman. “The biggest for a good number of years at open age level and we are all eager to bring back some silverware to the club.
“It’s been a tough season with it being the first in the summer, but we have loved it and if we can pick up a trophy that will be a real bonus for us.
“But we know this will be as hard a game as there is, because Egremont arrive as a side looking odds on for the Premier Division at the end of the season after showing some terrific form in the First Division. And that win against St Pats in the last round and Siddal the round before that, was sensational.
“We know they have some real quality players, not least in standoff John Paul Brocklebank who kicks goals and scores tries for fun. They also have a great little scrum-half in Alistair Leek whilst Matty and Peter Brewsher in the pack always seem to run well.
“But to be honest, we are not bothered about them. It is all about what we can do. We had a cracking win at West Hull last Saturday and they were top of the Premier Division. That has really set us up and showed that if we okay as we can, we can beat any side.
“But it is all about wanting it, and I am convinced we are a hungry club.
“It should be a great event, a great final and to be part of the Finals day like this is something marvellous. We are all a little disappointed Leigh Centurions didn’t get there, and they treated us marvellously ahead of their semi-final against Sheffield.
“But it wasn’t to be, and it is up to us to fly the flag for the town. We hope we get good support too and that we can do our fans and town proud.”
Egremont coach John Brocklebank has put his side’s success this season down to the club’s policy of producing young players over the past decade.
He said: “This is the culmination of work over the last 10 to 12 years getting the youth policy right and those players that were juniors 12 years ago are now our first team.
“Egremont enjoyed great success in the 1990s we won the national cup in 1990 and the national league in 1998, after finishing playing we took a step back and put our efforts in the youth system and this is now coming through.
“This year we’ve already knocked out Wigan St Pats and Siddal who were both at the top of the NCL Premier when we knocked them out and these tough ties have prepared us well.
“We play to a plan and are fully committed to it, we build a platform on our forwards, we have pace out wide and strength in our centres and we know that they play a similar style.
“We know Leigh Miners are an excellent team, they play an exciting brand of rugby and have good pivots to push the ball out wide so I think it will be a very exciting and open game of Rugby League.
“We’ve got five or six buses travelling down to Warrington as well as cars and minibuses. It will be a case of my town against your town, bring it on!”
Tickets to the Co-operative Championships Finals Day on Sunday September 30 at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, Warrington cost from just £16 adult, £8 concessions and can be purchased by calling the RFL Ticket office on 0844 856 1113 or by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk