Leigh Centurions 35 North Wales Crusaders 22
LEIGH Centurions extended their winning run to six games at the start of 2014 but they had to do it tough against North Wales Crusaders.
For long periods the Welsh side matched Leigh before Centurions' extra firepower saw them home by seven tries to four.
The newly promoted side came to Leigh with no fear, having accounted for Swinton at Leigh Sports Village a couple of weeks ago and early on it was all Crusaders.
The Wrexham based side took the lead after eight minutes when a well worked move down their left involving Adam Lawton and Tommy Johnson brought a try for Rob Massam, converted from the touchline by Johnson.
Gradually, Leigh worked their way into the contest thanks to the thunderous charges of Tommy Goulden and Tom Spencer.
Martyn Ridyard struck a 40/20, and from the scrum Ryan Brierley crabbed across field for Gregg McNally to send Adam Higson in by the corner flag.
Ridyard missed from out wide and despite struggling with his goalkicking all day, his general field kicking was much better, continuing to turn Crusaders around.
This saw Centurions gradually win the battle for territory.
Leigh struck again after 22 minutes after great play saw Ridyard release Tommy Goulden and half the team got in on the handling before Brierley flicked the ball to Higson again.
McNally turned provider once more after 31 minutes for Higson's hat-trick and it was 12-6 to the hosts at half time.
Early in the second half Crusaders drew level after Lawton galloped clear to score from 30 metres.
Confidence was high in the visitors' ranks and their attack seemed to move into gear before a timely intercept saw Brierley speed 90 metres for his 13th try of the season. Ridyard nudged over the conversion and Leigh led 18-12.
Once again Crusaders levelled through a converted try by Johnson.
Leigh went in front again just after the hour when sprightly work around dummy half from Sean Penkywicz and an amazing reach from Oliver Wilkes saw the forward place the ball down between the posts despite the attention of three defenders.
The visitors would not be shaken off with Mark Offerdahl doing likewise at the other end.
Crucially, Johnson missed the conversion and Leigh finished the game strongly with Liam Kay surging in at the corner from 25 metres after good interplay between Kurt Haggerty and Tom Armstrong before Penkywicz nipped between the posts for Ridyard to add his third goal.
There was still just enough time at the end for Ridyard to strike a 35 metre drop goal to make sure of victory.
Leigh: McNally; Higson, Littler, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Spencer, Beswick, Aspinwall, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Wilkes, Penkywicz, Emmitt, Haggerty.