The third annual Lloyd Pugsley Memorial Game saw Leigh East emerge victorious following a controlled second half against Leigh Miners Rangers. Both teams named mixed sides with Jake Ellis and former Leigh Centurions Academy forward Elliot Liku taking the field for Miners and first team regulars Tom Worthington and Chris Penn featuring for East.
Opening exchanges were fierce with Scott Pugsley and Declan Flannery putting themselves about for Miners while Jay Yarwood, the excellent Nathan Gaskell and skipper Jamie Waters set the tone.
The first real opportunity came in the sixth minute when Tony Doyle made a half break that brought follow up from Flannery and Joe Harrison. East held their nerve and line with Nicky Ratcliffe splitting the defence and Billy Bishop driving strongly. As Easts built, halfbacks Worthington and Ben Parry started to tick. Both Parry and Ratcliffe went close but Miners too were looking increasingly dangerous. A startling break from Joe Lorimer was supported by scrum half Tom Maloney but Doyles booming pass was spilled by Lewis Grimes.
Eventually the visitors did take the lead, when following another good run by Maloney, Declan Flannery found an offload and Joe Harrison put Ellis over for Shepherd to goal. Minutes later a second try looked likely when Shepherd intercepted Worthington, but the defence raced back to deny Grimes.
The half continued to be keenly contested with the whistle of the referee punctuating the action. Another former Centurion, 40 year old Safraz Jama, came on for Leigh East and continued to dominate the ruck, despite the best efforts of Miners youngster and Leigh East product Jordan Hellam, who also sparkled. Phil Bickerstaff was hauled down close to the try line after 31 minutes and the scoreboard came to life in a frantic last three minutes. First Steve Keegan rumbled over after the running of outstanding Steve Ormesher. Worthington converted and was then architecht with a high bomb that was spilled by Grimes. Ryan Gray followed up to go in at the corner and East led 10-6
The second half saw East take complete contol. Two tries in the first eight minutes gave Miners an uphill struggle. First Parry evaded two tacklers to run in from 25 metres after lovely work on the left by Worthington, then when Safraz Jama was stopped on the line, a loose ball was picked up by Bickerstaff who plunged over. Worthington goaled both and East looked comfortable, leading 22-6. Scott Pugsley disputed this try and promptly dispatched to the sinbin.
Easts rearguard was called into action a couple of times behind the kicking of Maloney while Bishop came up with an excellent tackle alongside Gray to deny Ellis.
Just after the hour, Miners threatened a comeback when Maloney did all the running from a scrum and Lewis Lingard scored at the right corner. But East made the game safe after 68 minutes when a great kick by Worthington saw Danny Grainey pounce and go under the posts. Worthington added his fourth goal and the hosts tackled the game out to confirm a 28-10 Leigh East win.
East: Chris Penn, Ryan Hughes, Billy Bishop, Steve Ormesher, Ryan Gray; Ben Parry, Tom Worthington; Jamie Waters, Nicky Ratcliffe, Louis Else, Jay Yarwood, Phil Bickerstaff, Nathan Gaskell. Subs: Danny Grainey, Alex Holcroft, Steven Keegan, Zac Nicholls, Randall Raines, James Noon, Safraz Jama.
Tries: Keegan (37), Gray (39), Parry (42), Bickerstaff (48), Grainey (67).
Goals: Worthington 4/5.
Miners: Jake Ellis, Klaus Ndnga, Darryl Flannery, Sam Shepherd, Lewis Grimes; Tony Doyle, Tom Maloney; Scott Pugsley, Joe Harrison, Joe Lorrimer, Kyle Disly, Declan Flannery, Elliot Liku. Subs: Jake Lloyd, Ben Grimshaw, Todd Appleby, Danny Hilton, Jordan Hellam, Lewis Lingard.
Tries: Ellis (15), Lingard (61).
Goals: Shepherd 1/1, Maloney 0/1.
Report by Dave Parkinson