Rochdale Hornets 22 Leigh Centurions 28
LEIGH Centurions won through to a Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round home tie against Featherstone Rovers with a close 28-22 defeat of Rochdale Hornets.
Having come up against Hornets seven days ago, the Centurions knew what they were up against and it was a gutsty effort due to the fact that they lost Tommy Goulden and Sam Barlow ahead of the game and Tom Armstrong fell ill on Sunday morning.
The visitors made a roaring start with Tom Spencer charging strongly and Oliver Wilkes crossing for two well worked tries in the opening eight minutes.
The first came courtesy of a short pass from Martyn Ridyard with the second following after Matty Sarsfield sliced through the defence. Ridyard converted both and the Centurions appeared to be flying.
Sarsfield saw a try chalked off but Leigh kept up their momentum when Ridyard stepped and fired through to go under the posts. He converted his own try to make it 18-0 after 24 minutes.
A break from former Leigh player Chris Baines brought the best out of Gregg McNally but Hornets moved the ball down the right for Wayne English to hand Sean Casey a try.
A destructive inside run and perfect offload brought the hosts back into contention with English dashing to the posts.
Sarsfield harshly saw a try ruled out from Ridyard’s distribution before half-time but Leigh appeared to put the game beyond Rochdale with two tries at the start of the new half.
Ridyard decided to run a play on the last tackle and moved play right where Ryan Brierley was lurking before the halfback blazed away for his 16th try of the season, goaled superbly from the touchline.
A lapse in the hosts' discipline followed a blockbusting run from Wilkes and when Ridyard and Brierley moved the ball, McNally scored from wide out and the Centurions led 28-10.
Like last week Rochdale fired back, but it came as result of a freak try.
Directly from the restart, the ball bobbled away from Ridyard, who then knocked on, into the grateful path of Jordan Case for the Rochdale man to sweep over by the posts. Paul Crook goaled and was on hand to nudge over the extras just before the hour mark when Casey kicked ahead and English grounded the ball despite appearing just in front of the kicker.
Rochdale had a further opportunity when Liam Kay appeared to fluff his lines deep inside his own twenty but referee David Sharpe deemed a scrum was sufficient despite Hornets grounding what they felt was a try.
Stuart Littler then fell foul of Sharpe and earned a yellow card.
Leigh scrambled heroically for ten minutes and then had enough tenacity to keep Hornets at bay and keep their involvement in the famous competition alive.
Leigh: McNally; Higson, Pitman, Littler, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Spencer, Penkywicz, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Hopkins. Subs: Beswick, Thornley, Acton, Emmitt.
Referee: David Sharpe.
Penalties: 12-7 to Hornets.
Halftime: 18-10 to Leigh.