Leigh Centurions 48 Feathrstone Rovers 18
LEIGH Centurions clinched the Kingstone Press Championship League Leaders Shield and with it the £500,000 prize money thanks to a big performance on Friday.
Victory over Featherstone brought a hat-trick for in-form centre Tom Armstrong and seven tries in total for Leigh.
He was one of multiple threats for the Centurions, who also saw big games from the likes of Martyn Ridyard, Sean Penkywicz, Gregg McNally and Sam Hopkins.
In fact the entire Leigh pack were immense and bulldozed Featherstone Rovers.
Rovers were hampered with the early loss to injury of both Kyle Trout and Matty Dale but even taking that into account, Leigh were far superior and fully deserved their seven-try success.
Sensing this would be a close game, Ridyard opted to go for goal when Leigh were gifted a penalty 15 metres from the line after Penkywicz was shoulder charged.
He landed the first of an eventual 10-goal haul to give Leigh an early 2-0 advantage.
Less than a minute later, Rovers were stood between their own posts when a superb raid down the left saw McNally get the ball to Liam Kay before being clattered by Jason Crookes, who was put on report for the challenge.
Kay stormed down the wing and Armstrong collected the inside pass to notch his first of the game. Ridyard made it 8-0 and the stand-off kicked a big 40/20 after 15 minutes.
That territory and possession gave Leigh an opportunity and after Hopkins had been hauled down short, Penkywicz picked his way through the line from close range.
Trailing 14-0, Rovers faced a challenging deficit that became almost impossible after 24 minutes when Ridyard and McNally combined and Armstrong dashed over.
Rovers started to come into the game and after forcing Leigh to defend for three consecutive sets, Andy Ellis nipped from dummy half with Gareth Moore converting.
More pressure came Leigh's way and Crookes used his strength to wrestle over the line from close range with Moore once again converting to make it 20-12.
Leigh looked set to end the half with a try when Ridyard put Armstrong through a hole but Ian Hardman hauled him down on the line and then conceded a penalty for Ridyard to goal and put the hosts 22-12 up at the interval.
The second half brought more punishing defence and one clash in particular saw Armstrong receive treatment for several minutes before taking his place in the Leigh attack to round off his hat-trick after Ridyard, Sarsfield and McNally had carved the defence open.
With 53 minutes gone, Featherstone hit back when Moore split the defence on the left and Gregg Worthington supported for Moore to reduce the deficit to 10 points.
Sam Barlow had other ideas for Leigh and charged for the line, taking three men over with him for his third try of the year.
Ridyard again goaled and stretched the Centurions' advantage to 18 points with a further penalty on the hour.
Rovers threw everything they had at the Leigh defence but the hosts responded with a blanket approach that frustrated their visitors.
With desperation creeping in, Rovers saw two men sent to the sinbin in the final 10 minutes.
First Moore was shown yellow for his part in instigating a fight before Hardman suffered the same fate for dissent of referee Tim Roby.
There was still time for a strong Leigh finish. First Jamie Acton went between the posts for his first try of the season before Brierley kicked wide for Adam Higson to ground in the corner.
Ridyard kicked his 10th goal to complete his 20-point tally and kick-start the Centurions celebrations.
Centurions: McNally; Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Hopkins, Penkywicz, Emmitt, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Acton, Wilkes, Spencer.