Leigh strike late to break Trojan hearts

Thornhill man-of-the-match Jake Wilson scored the third try in their narrow Conference Trophy semi-final defeat.
Thornhill man-of-the-match Jake Wilson scored the third try in their narrow Conference Trophy semi-final defeat.

Thornhill Trojans produced a valiant effort in their Conference Trophy semi-final at Leigh Miners before being edged out 24-18.

With the game inside its closing five minutes both teams were locked in an 18-18 arm wrestle and looked to be heading for extra time.

However, Thornhill hearts were broken and the Premier Division high fliers snuck over for a game clinching try and breathed a sigh of relief.

The Trojans players had done their club proud and at full-time rightly received a standing ovation from their large army of supporters as the players left the field.

The game started with Thornhill in a fearless mood. A good opening saw Mindaugas Bendikas race away down the wing only for the referee to call for a forward pass.

Thornhill maintained their strong start and the break though finally arrived when hooker Luke Haigh dummied from acting half and nipped over for a try which Danny Ratcliffe converted.

Leigh began to take a hold of the game and built up what did seem to be a comfortable half-time lead.

The Miners’ first real pressure saw them held up over the line but sustained pressure resulted in a try as an offload put Shaun Dowie over at the side of the posts. Jonny Youlds converted.

Miners continued to test Thornhil and a lofted pass found Brad Hargreaves. With options either side of him he kept the Thornhill defence guessing before opting to go it alone and over for a try. Youlds converted.

Just before half-time the ball was worked along the attacking line and a short pass stretched the Thornhill defence and put Martin Graythrough the gap and over for a try which Youlds converted to make it 18-6 at the interval.

The second half saw a remarkable come back by the Trojans.

A series of penalties took Thornhill close and a strong drive by Anthony Harris saw Bendikas collect the final pass and dive over for an unconverted try in the corner.

The tempo of the game suddenly increased as Thornhill were back in the hunt.

Miners turned down a penalty shot at goal to run the ball and when their attack came to nothing, Thornhill had a hint that the game was not lost.

Quick handling saw Anthony Broadhead put man-of-the-match Jake Wilson over at the side of the posts. Danny Ratcliffe converted and Thornhill only trailed by two points.

Thornhill threw everything at the Miners in a dramatic close to the game.

A high kick saw Ryan Fenton give chase but agonisingly couldn’t control the ball with the try begging.

Another raid saw Broadhead put Wilson heading for glory but the ball again went to ground.

A high tackle on Ben Kendall saw Thornhill awarded a penalty and Danny Ratcliffe made no mistake with the kick to level the score at 18-18.

Scott Dyson attempted a long range drop goal to try to secure victory for the Trojans but the ball fell short.

Leigh worked the ball out to the wing and Tommy Parkinson went over for a try. Youlds converted and as the full-time whistle went the Premier Division team were off the hook and through to the final.