Rochdale Hornets 22 Leigh Centurions 72
IF last weekend’s success against Keighley Cougars was a case for their defence, Leigh Centurions made a pretty good case for their attack at Rochdale as the continued summer weather brought about some glorious rugby and 12 tries.
In this form there are few Kingstone Press Championship sides that can live with the Centurions, yet they had to do it tough after trailing 12-0 after ten minutes.
Despite a bright opening to the game, it was Rochdale that opened the scoring when a big kick from Paul Crook was fumbled and bounced away from Liam Kay into the grateful arms of Gareth Langley.
Crook converted and was on hand again moments later when a break from Joe Greenwood down the left was supported by Adam Swift and the two St Helens dual contract players put that try on the board.
Had they continued in that vein, who knows what could have happened but when Greenwood and Matthew Sarsfield clashed in the middle of the field and a fight broke out, both players were dispatched to the sin bin.
Leigh seized their opportunity and didn’t look back with Martyn Ridyard enjoying his best game of the season. Such was his direct influence that the next four tries came from him and, over the course of the game he laid on a further two and inspired two more. It was unplayable stuff from the Leigh number six.
Sam Barlow opened Leigh’s account after 17 minutes from a Ridyard pass before returning the favour to his halfback a couple of minutes later who unselfishly handed on for Gregg McNally to sweep under the posts. Quick hands from Ridyard brought Kay his 24th try of the year after 25 minutes and a short pass from the pivot saw Sarsfield cross from close range.
Ryan Brierley got in on the try making, Sam Hopkins claiming Leigh’s fifth before the break with Ridyard putting over his fifth goal to make it 30-12 to the Centurions at half-time.
Leigh then had to marshal their defence in the opening stages of the second half before Ridyards kick unlocked the try line at the other end, Tom Armstrong chasing through to claim the ball ahead of Swift.
McNally was also influential and he skinned Rochdale on the outside before handing on for Cameron Pitman to score the first of a second half hat-trick. A further Ridyard kick from close range saw Brierley add his 34th try of the season and good play from the stand-off saw Sarsfield gallop through on the Leigh left, he then found McNally in support for the Centurions ninth try before the hour but there was plenty more to come from the game.
Jordan Case pulled a try back for Rochdale after 66 minutes but Leigh found their scoring groove again six minutes later when Armstrong took a high kick to sail over the line. Pitman claimed his second try after 73 minutes before Lewis Sheridan got Anthony Walker over for a fourth Hornets consolation.
There was little surprise that Leigh had energy to respond and what a play it was as Ridyard found McNally lurking on the left and he had presence of mind to turn the ball inside for Pitman to score his hat-trick, allowing Ridyard to maintain his excellent kicking with his twelfth goal from twelve attempts to confirm the landslide 72-22 win.
Team: McNally, Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Emmitt, Penkywicz, Hopkins, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Goulden, Aspinwall, Acton.
Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow.