Leigh Centurions 30 Keighley Cougars 0

LEIGH Centurions returned to winning ways in the Kingstone Press Championship.

But this game was probably not the best advert for the competition as both teams played out a stop-start second half.

Although the result and the watertight defence will have pleased Centurions head coach Paul Rowley, it was far from a fluent performance by Leigh.

Leigh opened the scoring after nine minutes. Martyn Ridyard returned to the team following injury and the Centurions linchpin was immediately involved in providing a running chance for Tom Armstrong. The former St Helens centre enjoyed a good night with limited ball and set about carving his way through the defence from thirty metres for Ridyard to goal.

The Centurions quickly made it 12-0 after 17 minutes when they drove close to the line and Bob Beswick proved too strong to stop although the Cougars were disappointed to concede with three players tackling the Leigh vice captain.

A simple step and inside pass proved Keighley’s undoing again six minutes later when Jake Emmitt shuffled and then passed inside where Oliver Wilkes ran virtually unopposed under the posts giving Ridyard another simple two points.

Keighley were constructive without being able to break down the defence fully. Paul March and Danny Jones got the Cougars around the field and there was a big effort in their first spell on the field by props Sean Hesketh and Andy Shickell, but other than a couple of half breaks they were denied in the first 20 minutes.

The final 15 minutes of the first half saw the Cougars mount pressure on the Leigh line and they forced a couple of drop outs. It was during this period that two clear cut chances went awry.

Richie Barnett was brought back for a knock on in the build-up following a crossfield kick and scramble between him and Liam Kay while Danny Lawton was also hauled down close.

Former Halifax centre James Haley was furious with himself in the last minute of the first half as he spilled a money ball from Jones that had the Leigh defence wide open.

Trailing 18-0 at the break, Keighley needed a good start but after going set for set with Centurions for the first couple of minutes the game descended into a series of handling errors, scrums and penalties.

It was a frustrating watch with the usual completion rates being thrown away and both teams' defence coming to the fore.

Keighley thwarted a number of Leigh raids while the Centurions' tackling pinned the visitors deep inside their own half.

Eventually a breakthrough came.

With 56 minutes gone, Sean Penkywicz probed and his pass left was palmed down by the Cougars defence. Liam Kay collected and quickly seized on the opportunity to attack. Armstrong collected the wraparound pass and his pace carried the centre 30 metres before kicking on for for Gregg McNally. The Cumbrian didn’t have to break stride to collect and run between the posts for his 14th try of the season. Once again Ridyard goaled and at 24-0 the game was beyond Keighley.

Just past the hour, Jake Emmitt alleged he had been bitten and the whole incident was placed on report.

Bob Beswick returned to the field in the closing stages to replace a quiet Brierley and his break from inside his own half saw Ridyard stream up in support and take the pass to sail between the posts, allowing the stand-off to complete his 100 percent night with the boot and a 14-point haul.

Both teams were placed on report for a late fracas but Leigh held their line to nil their opposition for the third time this season.

Team: McNally; Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Wilkes, Beswick, Emmitt, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Penkywicz, Aspinwall, Acton, Hopkins.

Attendance: 2,143.