Halifax 28 Leigh Centurions...36
A BRILLIANT Leigh comeback saw the Centurions overcome a 24-point deficit to stretch their winning run in the Kingstone Press Championship encounter.
After a tight and tense first ten minutes it was hosts Halifax that took the lead when Paul Mennell jumped out of dummy half and found former Leigh Miners forward Andy Bracek. He swept over the line in the 15th minute for Steve Tyrer to make it a 6-0 advantage.
Ominously the hosts rolled forward again five minutes later and although Adam Higson charged in from his wing to halt Tyrer, the ball fell loose and with referee Chris Leatherbarrow calling the free-play, quick thinking by Ross Divorty saw the big second row chip a static defence and race through to score.
Leigh had precious little ball inside the Halifax half with the hosts relentlessly targeting the Centurions middle.
An intricate play between Tyrer and Ryan Fieldhouse brought a try for the former Leigh East full back and it was Fieldhouse that ran between the posts after 26 minutes after Scott Murrell had split the Leigh defence.
Centurions looked shell shocked but the introduction of Sam Barlow brought much needed passion to the side while Bob Beswick also appeared from the bench to aid Tommy Goulden's crusade against the Halifax defence.
Within minutes an almighty skirmish between both sets of players ensued with Barlow and Bracek sent to cool their heels for ten minutes.
The mood of both teams was simmering and another confrontation came five minutes later between Tony Tonks and Jake Emmitt when curiously Tonks was dispatched to the sin bin with Jamie Acton.
This opened the game up with both sides playing 11-a-side for a couple of minutes before Barlow returned to claim Ryan Brierley’s midfield bomb and cross amid a mass of bodies. Martyn Ridyard goaled on the stroke of half-time.
Trailing 24-6, the Centurions came out in the second forty with a new steely determination and will to win.
They began to turn it around just two minutes in when Tom Armstrong ran forty metres with an elusive surge. With Fax floundering, Leigh moved play right with Ridyard passing for Goulden to go in but more strange happenings followed.
Galvanised Leigh moved down the ground and lay siege to the Halifax line only for the defence to move up and clamp Ridyard in the process of passing. This time the hosts were slow to respond and the ball broke for Matty Sarsfield to go over. Ridyard converted but not before the Centurions were put down to 12 men for the rest of the game with Barlow sent off for a punch as he was being replaced.
This could have halted the Centurions but they swept down the ground again with Higson finding Brierley and he kicked on to win the race.
Leigh then took an unbelievable lead when Brierley, Ridyard and McNally combined to get Tom Armstrong over wide out on the left. Ridyard goaled from the touchline and there was more to come.
More excellent work from Goulden set the platform and Higson split the defence to again send Brierley haring in for his 18th try for the season.
Although Halifax eventually got on the scoreboard again through Ben Heaton, it proved too little, too late and Leigh celebrated on the hooter.
Leigh: McNally; Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Spencer, Penkywicz, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Goulden, Hopkins. Subs: Beswick, Acton, Barlow, Emmitt.
Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow.