Featherstone Rovers 12 Leigh Centurions 38

NEIL Jukes hailed Daniel Mortimer’s most telling contribution since his arrival from the NRL as Leigh made a winning start to their latest Middle 8s campaign, writes Trevor Baxter.

Centurions certainly looked more impressive than Saturday’s visitors, Hull KR, who, watched by Jukes and Keiron Purtill, laboured to an unconvincing home win over Halifax 24 hours later.

“There’s a bit of toughness about him,” said Jukes of former NRL Grand Final winner, Mortimer.

“When he comes off the field he looks like he’s had a scrap with five blokes. He is all over the place.

“But he is a good competitor. His short kicking game was good, he ran well and got some good service. In the main he executed what we spoke about.

“When your halves are decent then as a team you have got a chance. And both him and Josh Drinkwater were decent.”

Drinkwater scored a try and kicked five goals from seven attempts while Mortimer went over for the first of seven Leigh touchdowns and was instrumental in setting up several more.

Full-back Gregg McNally followed his double in last month’s whitewash of Salford with two more as Leigh top the Qualifiers table.

“Getting off to a winning start in these 8s is really important,” agreed Jukes whose only concern was game-ending concussion for centre Samisoni Langi.

“I know how tough it is to come to this place if you are not on song with your game.”

With Mortimer and McNally crossing for converted tries in the opening six minutes, Leigh, playing up the slope in the first half, took early control.

But the quickfire salvo didn’t entirely subdue John Duffy’s Championship hosts.

Well travelled prop Darrell Griffin rumbled over after 18 minutes and though Mitch Brown took McNally’s long pass to add a third visitors’ try, Rovers wouldn’t go away.

Winger Luke Briscoe had a try chalked off by video referee Phil Bentham after losing control over the line and Fev were a shade unfortunate to trail 16-6.

The second half was a different story.

With Mortimer and Drinkwater pulling the strings, Leigh turned the screw with three tries in 12 minutes from Liam Hood, Matty Dawson and Drinkwater.

Misi Taulapapa’s 67th-minute effort and Ian Hardman’s second conversion reduced Rovers’ deficit.

But McNally had the final say after Micky Higham’s surge set up the chance.

Match stats:

Featherstone: Hardman; Turner, Taulapapa, Hardcastle, Briscoe: Briggs, Thackeray; Moore, Carlile, Griffin, Davies, Farrell, Lockwood. Substitutes: Wildie, Bostock, Mariano, Brooks

Tries: Griffin (18), Taulapapa (67)

Goals: Hardman (2)

Leigh: McNally; Dawson, Fleming, Langi, Brown: Mortimer, Drinkwater; Hansen, Higham, Maria, Paterson, Vea, Burr. Substitutes: Hood, Richards, Tickle, Stewart

Tries: Mortimer (2), McNally (6 and 78), Brown (25), Hood (47), Dawson (57), Drinkwater (59)

Goals: Drinkwater (5)

Referee: James Child

Attendance: 2,679

Half-time: 6-16