Leigh Centurions 26 Halifax 24

DESPITE Halifax throwing the best they could muster at Leigh Centurions it was the hosts that marched on once again in the Kingstone Press Championship with a hard fought win.

Leigh had the first opportunity after five minutes when Johnny Pownall was tackled into touch and Chris Hankinson also threw himself at the defence on his full debut.

The Centurions then got over for their first try barely a minute later as Pownall snapped up Gregg McNally’s floated pass to the right wing. Martyn Ridyard converted superbly from the touchline.

A 40-20 from Ridyard pushed Halifax back to their own line. Tommy Goulden almost forced his way over but from the next play a magic offload from Sam Barlow saw Oliver Wilkes go under the post. Ridyard goaled again for a 12-0 advantage.

Peter Fox went close to opening the scoring for the visitors but McNally tackled back and ripped the ball out.

Halifax responded with a 17th minute try from Gareth Potts after former Leigh East fullback Ryan Fieldhouse. Steve Tyrer goaled from wide out.

Leigh returned to their successful play with Barlow and Matthew Sarsfield interlinking before McNally ran through the middle in support to put another six points on the scoreboard, the next opportunity went Fax way when Danny Cowling was forced in touch.

Tyrer kept the pressure up on the Leigh defence with Goulden hauling him down before a set move from a penalty put Liam Kay down the left only for his inside pass to Sam Barlow be deemed forward.

Halifax continued to work their way back into the game and Tyrer claimed a try from Brown’s kick, just before half-time, converting to make it a six point deficit for the visitors.

The first period of the second half contained lots of niggle with Ridyard converting a penalty after being on the end of a high tackle to extend their advantage to 20-12.

The game really erupted after two connecting brawls followed a lunging challenge from Dane Manning on Barlow. Manning was sent off with Kurt Haggerty joining him for his part in the melee.

Once rugby broke out again, Leigh lay siege to the Fax line. McNally saw a try disallowed but despite being second best, Halifax converted two chances to bring about a nervy end to the game.

First McNally saw the ball stolen by Brown and by the end of the set, Luke Ambler had rolled under the posts, then with just minutes remaining, Callum Casey slipped through a tiring Leigh defence from close range for Tyrer to grab his fourth goal and a 24-20 lead.

The Centurions of 2014 don’t know when they are beaten and lifted from the canvas one last time to provide a knock-out blow. Sean Penkywicz, so often a darling of the Halifax crowd, kicked forward, Fieldhouse fumbled and a hopeful Wilkes pounced for his second try with Ridyard potting the pressure conversion.

There was on final chance for Halifax when Potts sped down the wing only for McNally to force him into touch and Leigh steered home.

Leigh: McNally, Pownall, Hankinson, Haggerty, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Spencer, Beswick, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Penkywicz, Acton, Bate, Emmitt.