WHAT a disastrous weekend it proved for the Hatton’s Solicitors National conference league clubs from the Wigan and Leigh area on the very last day of their second summer season.
On a weekend when there was so much at stake for the Wigan clubs, St Patrick’s and St Jude’s, both of them saw their hopes of glory blown wide apart.
Leigh Miners also ended their campaign with a devastating 84-6 point thrashing at Wath Brow Hornets.
The Miners result could have been predicted as they had two thirds of their team away on a stag do – something for which the League does not postpone fixtures, but certainly St Jude’s hammering at home by Rochdale Mayfield and St Pat’s 26-2 home defeat to West Hull left both clubs feeling deflated at the end of a long summer campaign.
In St Jude’s case they missed out on the opportunity of picking up medals as runners-up of the First division.
They had already secured promotion as one of the three teams set to go up for 2014, but they seemed all set to at least finish second.
However a rampant Mayfield, who still harboured hopes of promotion themselves, and the dismissal of former Wigan star Shaun Ainscough for St Jude’s was a combination that blew them apart as they crashed to a devastating 88-6 home humiliation.
Why did it happen?
Both the Miners and St Jude’s had players sent off but even so it would have been hard at the start of this campaign to see either side so comprehensively defeated in their last game of the campaign.
The margin of the Miners’ defeat almost denied Thatto Heath the League leaders’ shield, as the St Helens side went into their home game with York Acorn level on points with the hornets, who were last season’s champions but having a 61 point better scoring difference.
That in itself would have looked enough to have won the League Leaders’ Shield for Thatto if they just beat York.
But it all turned out to be rather more nerve racking than that.
Not least for the NCL Administrator David Lowe, who had to quickly calculate the final scores and work out that Thatto Heath had hung on to their top spot and claimed the silverware courtesy of a one point difference.
If Wath Brow had goaled their 15th try and not missed that conversion, then the fact that Thatto Heath missed their final conversion of the game would have sent the trophy back to Cumbria.
Nevertheless it may not all be is as it seems, and the NCL are seeking to investigate whether there was something in the region of 17 or 18 minutes extra time played in Cumbria, during which the home side scored another 30 points.
It does mean that the top six play-offs are decided with Thatto Heath and second placed Wath Brow sitting out this first weekend of games this Saturday when third-placed Castleford Lock Lane are at home to Egremont and West Hull entertain fifth placed Siddal.
In Division one East Leeds are Champions, Hunslet Warriors are runners up and St Jude’s head back to Premier Division rugby league next season in third spot with Mayfield missing out.
Two definiately go down from Saddleworth Rangers, Stanley Rangers and Waterhead, but of those, only Saddleworth have not got an appointment with the NCL disciplinary committee for fielding an ineligible player.
Bradford Dudley Hill have to face their consequences of postponing a game without permission at Mayfield two weeks ago.
The upshot of all this is that who gets relegated has yet to be determined throughout the divisions as the NCL look to have at least 12 clubs in each division.
Coming up are Normanton Knights and Shaw Cross Sharks as Champions and runners-up, in division two.
In Division Three Kells as Champions and Pilkingtons as runners up will be playing a higher division next campaign.
CONGRATULATIONS to Leigh East women who won the NW League Division One Grand Final after beating Crosfields 32-22 thanks to a decisive late touchdown from Natalie Weaving, who had claimed East’s previous touchdown.
Clair Mullaney scored a try and kicked four goals for East with Vicky Molyneux, Katie Dean and Hayley Spreadborough also grabbing tries.
Golborne Parkside remain at the top of the Upper Division of the NW Counties Winter League on points difference ahead of a cluster of clubs,