03 Oct 2021 in News
LEIGH EAST 18 CLOCK FACE MINERS 20
By Dave Parkinson
Leigh East's NCL season came to an end after a dramatic and incident-packed home game against Clock Face Miners.
Having dispatched Hunslet Warriors last time out, this set up an NCL Cup semi-final game against the men from St Helens, and initially, there was little to choose between the two teams.
East were missing suspended skipper Pat Rainford and key forward Zac Nicholls but were able to recall Connor Grainey following his success with England Community Lions Under 20s in Ireland last week, while Ben Balmer stepped up to the hooking role well with a wholehearted effort.
Chances were few and far between in the first fifteen minutes with Louis Else and Will Ludlow impressing with some big carries. It was the visitors who opened the scoring after 16 minutes when the ball went right and Shaun Costello dummied and shot to the line. He was unable to convert and Clock led 4-0.
Balmer was sin-binned for a swinging arm after 22 minutes and Clock immediately took advantage, marching down field before a cute play through the middle brought a score from prop Brad Davies, who went under the posts. Costello goaled to make it 10-0 and was on hand to improve the next score a minute later when excellent feet from Brandon Lewis opened the defence and fullback Michael Carney dashed over in support.
East fluffed a couple of spells of pressure and it was 16-0 to the visitors at half-time.
Early in the new half Clock Face threatened again and twice had tries ruled out by referee Freddie Lincoln. East responded with a class try after 50 minutes. The ball reached Kieron Prescott and, as he's done all season, Prescott stepped and motored through the middle, sending defenders left and right before searing to the posts. Ben Woods converted. If that try was spectacular, the next was sublime as from his own half, Else slipped a pass out of the tackle, Jay Yarwood broke the line, Balmer followed up and Prescott was at his shoulder to run to the posts. With Woods goaling once more, East now trailed by just four points after 52 minutes.
Unfortunately from the hosts' point of view, an error gave Clock Face an opportunity, and they grasped it with both hands when Costello burst through a couple of tackles to ground and although he couldn't convert, it was now 12-20.
East continued to play some good stuff and were rewarded after 68 minutes when Prescott stopped, started and danced in the midfield before Grainey scattered the defence and handed on to Ludlow to finish superbly. Woods added his third goal to close the gap to 18-20 and Clock Face just held on to claim victory and a final spot against East Leeds.