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Leigh Centurions keep Northern Rail Cup bid alive with comprehensive victory over Featherstone Rovers
Leigh Centurions 36 Featherstone Rovers 6
LEIGH Centurions put their York nightmare behind them to claim a morale-boosting win over Featherstone Rovers, who made the semi-final stage of the Northern Rail Cup last term.
Compared to seven days earlier, it was much improved and ultimately comprehensive.
Leigh lost three times to Rovers in 2009 but the 2010 Centurions ran in six tries, including two from Mick Nanyn, in a game bossed from start to finish by Robbie Paul and particularly Tim Hartley, who gave an assured performance at stand off.
Other impressive facets included good shows from a hungry back row that contained MacGraff Leuluai, debutant Lee Mitchell and ever willing workhorse James Taylor, while Centurions were also held up over the line a further five times.
After a solid opening, Centurions conceded the first penalty two minutes in but Andy Kain failed to find touch and a strong return by Dave Alstead put Leigh in the Featherstone half.
Centurions continued to edge closer to the line and took the lead two minutes later when spritely work around dummy half by John Duffy saw Chris Hill (a surprise returnee to the team selection of Ian Millward after injury) take a flat pass to open the score in the fourth minute.
Hartley converted before Leigh doubled their advantage after 11 minutes when Rovers were hurried off the ball and from the possession, Hartley passed left, showing lovely slight of hand and found MacGraff Leuluai. He crashed through the defence to ground.
Minutes later Leigh split the defence again when Stuart Donlan scooped up a kick near his own line and ran 50 metres only for Liam Finn to chase back and tackle, forcing the full back into a handling error.
Rovers then grabbed their only score when Kain and Kyle Briggs linked, Michael Coady then handed on to Tom Saxton and his inside pass was knocked down by Mitchell.
Somehow the bouncing ball ended with Liam Finn scoring. Briggs added the conversion.
Featherstone needed another try quickly but Centurions tackled with real hunger.
Leigh then struck for a third score before the break.
After being initially frustrated by Rovers, Leigh looked ragged before the ball went back to Hartley.
His excellent cross kick on the last tackle saw Steve Maden palm back and Dave Alstead touched down in the corner for that man Hartley to strike a fine goal from the touch line.
Trailing 18-6 at half time Rovers needed a good start but that did not materialise and after debutant Mitchell thundered 50 metres, only to be held up in-goal, two tries in three minutes from Mick Nanyn all but sealed Rovers' fate.
After Mitchell was held up on the right, Leigh then scored on the left when Hartley found Nanyn and he touched down amid a melee of players.
Two minutes later a penalty took Leigh within 30 metres of the line.
Quick thinking from Hartley saw the stand off tap and forge ahead on the left.
His early pass found Nanyn and he soon hit top speed, pushing through a tackle to then stride home past a despairing tackle from Rovers full back Ian Hardman.
Donlan went close to scoring after 56 minutes before Mike Morrison, on his 50th appearance, was held up over the line.
Former Widnes forward Iain Morrison was then high tackled off the ball and the incident was placed on report.
Rovers then saw Briggs knock on at the Leigh line and although Morrison was blood binned a second time for the hosts, Centurions went down to the other end of the ground where a slide-rule kick from Paul brought dual-reg player Mitchell his first try for the club after 61 minutes.
Hartley struck a confident sixth goal before Rovers went in hunt of points.
A timely intercept by Alstead prevented a scoring opportunity while more great defence frustrated Rovers and they replied by coughing up possession.
Nanyn was then held up to prevent his hat-trick after 68 minutes and Dave McConnell was also kept above the try line after smart distribution from Hartley. Although further points failed to come, Leigh closed down the game completely and deservedly took the three points that keep their Northern Rail Cup bid going.
Donlan; Maden, Alstead, Nanyn, Stanton; Hartley, Paul; Morrison, Duffy, Hill, Leuluai, Mitchell, Taylor. Subs: Goulden, McConnell, Emmitt, Armitstead.
Hill (4), Leuluai (11), Alstead (30), Nanyn (45, 47), Mitchell (61).
Hardman; Steel, Smeaton, Coady, Saxton; Briggs, Kain; Morrison, Finn, Dickens, Manning, Spears, Allan. Subs: Dobek, Divorty, Lynch, Dale.
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