Date published: May 04, 2022
Photo: Aidy Gleeson Senior
Nick Hargreaves performed well at Leigh Miners
Coaches Sam Butterworth and Steve Wood had to kick each other Friday night when naming their squad for this clash at Leigh Miners on Saturday April 30. While the team performed well and produced quality rugby, four players declared themselves unavailable for this weekend’s game.
A rushed reshuffle saw Mayfield make the trip with what, on paper, still looked like a solid squad. Sadly, that wasn’t the case on the pitch in a mediocre game of two teams that put in an average performance at best. In Mayfield’s defense, the four dropouts made a huge difference, both in ability on the field and, just as importantly, in morale.
Teams started well with Mayfield likely ahead of him in the skill factor. A missed tackle in the middle set the tone after 10 minutes and a converted try put the hosts ahead 6 – 0.
Mayfield was soon back level, but after good work from Rob Kershaw and Nick Hargreaves, the latter scored a try converted by Lewis Butterworth, 6 – 6.
Minutes later, a Fin Stewart break backed up by Dec Sheridan saw Jack McConnachie blast his way in, Butterworth converted to put the visitors ahead 6 – 10.
Mayfield looked strong at this stage, fending off the Miners’ attack with a solid defense on the goal line. If Moore, Corey Newsham and Butterworth tried to save tackles. Just when it looked like Mayfield was going to take control, the wheels fell off. They allowed the home side countless offloads in the tackle, failed to communicate in midfield and appeared to completely ignore the game plan. The Miners capitalized on every mistake with their wide winger extending from what looked like 10 yards to level the scores. 10 – 10.
The same player was instrumental in the following scoreline as he broke and kicked for his speedy full-back, who gratefully accepted the gift and scored under the sticks, 16 – 10.
Mayfields’ scrambling defense prevented any further scoring in the first half and Shaun Hurley and Danny Dean worked hard during that time.
The half-time break seemed to suit Mayfield as they reduced the deficit in the first set after the restart with a try in the corner from Fin Stewart, 16-14.
Butterworth’s side showed some decent touches in a good 20 minutes but failed to take the lead after two shots down the line. Young Ben Metcalfe was particularly impressive as he continued to claim a regular place in the team. Typically, a soft penalty put the Miners on Mayfield’s line and they crossed easily for a converted score, 22-14.
They would have gone further without another test saver from Lewis Butterworth. With 20 minutes to go, Mayfield was down to 12 after Sheridan argued with the referee. As often happens in these circumstances, the team upped their game to compensate and were rewarded when McConnachie passed Connolly for a try which Connolly then converted. 22 – 20.
Mayfield then received a pen under the sticks which Connolly jumped again to level the game, 22 – 22.
The Miners pushed back and took advantage of their chance after a bad kick bounced off a Mayfield player straight into the hands of the hometown winger who crossed into the corner for the final score 26-22.
Mayfield struggled to come back and was desperately unlucky after a 50-yard break from Sheridan saw Connolly held up on the line.
The whistle ended Mayfield’s hopes of victory and the dispirited Rochdale lads had to contemplate what was down to two points. There were some decent performances that day as Fin Stewart continued an impressive start at Mayfield, Hargreaves and Si Moore were particularly strong and Ben Metcalfe showed some touches of class. All in all, it was a lost opportunity and a case of “must do better”.