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Leigh Centurions hold on as Sheffield Eagles fight back
Leigh Centurions 32 Sheffield Eagles 24
ANOTHER week, another win for the Leigh Centurions Kingstone Press Championship freight train but this one was a real fight.
Not that it would have been considered anything but a formality as Centurions bossed the second quarter to take a 26-6 lead at half time against the reigning champions.
Missing the talents of injured Martyn Ridyard, Bob Beswick moved to half back to partner Ryan Brierley.
Although that initially disrupted Leigh, they applied the early pressure and Sheffield cracked when smart play from Tommy Goulden saw Brierley push through the defensive line for his 32nd try of the season. He then goaled for an early 6-0 advantage.
That lead lasted seven minutes, with Eagles responding in scrappy fashion when Scott Turner was quickest to react to a loose ball on the way to claiming the first of his hat-trick of tries.
Dominic Brambani converted and Eagles looked set for better things with a couple of promising drives and a startling break from Quentin Laulu-Togagae that had Brierley chasing back to deny him.
The teams remained all square until Gregg McNally was tackled late in the 21st minute, with the penalty putting Centurions on the front foot. After a direct run, Sam Barlow played the ball quickly, Sean Penkywicz darted through and linked for Bob Beswick to claim his sixth try of the season.
The 12-6 lead became 16-6 after 33 minutes when Goulden again provided the link and Chris Hankinson crossed at the corner.
Two further tries fell the Centurions way before the break.
Penkwicz’s delicate kick behind the line was pounced on by Matty Sarsfield. Just before the break Sam Hopkins ploughed over and it looked a commanding lead.
Even the start of the second half looked promising as Leigh forced a drop out from kick off and Liam Kay twice made breaks from dummy half.
Leigh could not take advantage and Eagles scored the first points of the new half after 50 minutes.
Centurions had been attacking but an error was quickly seized on by Eddie Battye and he fired the pass left for Turner to outpace the chasing defenders from 80 metres.
Things got even better for the visitors when former Wakefield hooker James Davey carved up Centurions with a fine solo effort after 55 minutes.
The league leaders were again rocking eight minutes later when a clever Brambani kick was touched down by Turner and the Eagles looked capable of a result.
Somehow, Leigh kept their line intact and the clock ticked down to the closing seconds when Barlow offloaded and former Eagles centre Tom Armstrong skipped to the line to make sure of the win.
Leigh: McNally; Pownall, Hankinson, Armstrong, Kay; Beswick, Brierley; Spencer, Penkywicz, Acton, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Haggerty, Hopkins, Emmitt, Aspinwall.
Referee: Warren Turley Attendance: 2,166