Whitehaven 10 Leigh Centurions 24
SOMETIMES the result of a game is more important than the performance and Centurions’ latest Kingstone Press Championship game was a perfect example.
The Recreation Ground at Whitehaven is one of the least welcoming grounds in the Championship where any display of even mild appreciation for a visiting team is viewed as skulduggery by the passionate locals.
It is also a place that has often proved troublesome to get a result from in years gone by, but Paul Rowley’s class of 2014 were able to win ugly to notch a 16th successive Championship victory.
There were moments of class from Leigh, but there were also a big number of errors and wrong calls.
The hottest weekend of the year brought some high speed play from both teams but also plenty of dumb decisions.
Whitehaven took an early advantage when Jessie Joe Parker got on the outside of his man in the third and fed Craig Calvert to the corner. The experienced winger just evaded a last ditch Gregg McNally tackle. Cain Southernwood missed the conversion but Haven were up and running at 4-0 Leigh responded after eight minutes on a rare first half foray into the hosts’ 20 metre line and Tommy Goulden crashed through from a Ryan Brierley pass. Martyn Ridyard hit the first of four goals and Leigh held a narrow advantage.
Whitehaven flooded forward but couldn't take advantage of some sloppy Leigh handling. The hosts bombed three clear cut chances as Leigh laboured in the sun, but they did put together a scoring play in the 28th minute when McNally flicked the ball to the right wing and Johnny Pownall acrobatically dived in to stretch Centurions out to a 10-4 lead.
A Ridyard penalty nudged Leigh further in front before the hosts became their own worst enemies; conceding a team warning before both Tom Carr and Brett Seymour were sin-binned before half-time.
Leading 12-4, Leigh opened the second half in good form with Jake Emmitt at his driving best but Goulden spilled a ball close to the line.
Whitehaven hauled their way back into the game when Parker touched down Southernwood’s clever kick and the former Bradford halfback also converted to drag the hosts within two points.
Leigh replied immediately when Matty Sarsfield sliced through the defence to set the position before Ridyard reversed a kick that brought an enthusiastic chase between McNally and Shaun Ainscough. McNally just got there ahead of the wingman and Ridyard again goaled to open an eight-point advantage.
Leigh were not firing on all cylinders but try as they might, Whitehaven could not find a way to unlock their steely and determined defence.
Former Centurion dual-contract man Lee Mitchell had a good game for the hosts but Leigh landed the knockout blow 10 minutes from the end.
Tom Spencer ran at the heart of the defence and popped the ball out for Brierley to speed to the line and his 30th try of the season. Ridyard completed his goal haul to ensure the 24-10 win.
Leigh: McNally; Pownall, Pitman, Thornley, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Spencer, Beswick, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Goulden, Hopkins. Subs: Penkywicz, Emmitt, Acton, Hankinson.