DANIEL Mortimer celebrated his return to action with a vital second half try as Leigh knocked out Super League Salford to reached the last eight of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

Centurions’ biggest test of their credentials so far this season was passed with flying colours.

They trailed 10-0 after 13 minutes but amassed 22 unanswered points to register a third cup win of 2018 and a 10the successive victory.

Australian hooker Mortimer, missing from Leigh’s previous 11 games, touched down after 49 minutes to leave last season’s semi-finalists two scores adrift.

And compatriot Drew Hutchison’s late touch down ensured the score line reflected the Championship outfit’s superiority.

“The boys were fantastic,” said caretaker boss, Kieron Purtill.

“We have had 10 good weeks and this was an excellent effort for us.

“It wasn’t the best start. We talked about our ball control and then dropped it in our first set.

“After that we kept hold of it, applied some pressure and forced errors from Salford.

“It wasn’t easy but a lot of the guys had a point to prove. The start of our year wasn’t great but we have got some momentum going.”

Asked if victory was good enough to ensure his caretaker role was upgraded, Purtill smiled and said:”We’ve probably got to get to Wembley first."

History was certainly stacked against Salford making the quarter-finals. Queen Victoria was still on the throne when the Red Devils last won a Challenge Cup tie on Leigh territory-117 years ago.

But Leigh made life hard for themselves by conceding two tries in the first 13 minutes to trail 10-0.

Full-back Niall Evalds touched down in Salford’s opening attack after 90 seconds before George Griffin hammered through the tackles for try number two. Jake Shorrocks converted Griffin’s score.

Leigh, however, are far more resilient these days than they were early season.

Livewire Peter Mata’utia, a constant threat all game, provided the assist for Ben Reynolds to burst through and score under the posts.

Leigh then re-cycled the ball after winger Derrell Olpherts failed to deal with a Hutchison ‘bomb’ and Harrison Hansen barged through four tacklers to score.

Reynolds, who finished with 10 points, goaled both tries to give Leigh a lead they weren’t to lose.

The half back would have been in for another six pointer only for Junior Sa’u’s blitzing tackle on the half-back.

Salford though were now way off the pace and even the half-time interval failed to raise the visitors from their slumbers.

Hutchison was held up over the line by desperate defence before Mortimer dived over to mark his comeback with a try. Reynolds’ third goal left Salford requiring two scores to prevent an early exit.

Ian Watson’s men never suggested a recovery and Hutchison’s touch down was the cue for the celebrations to begin even though Reynolds hit the post with his conversion.

Match stats Leigh: Mata’utia; Dawson-Jones, Crooks, Hall, Owens; Reynolds, Hutchison; Bailey, Higham, Acton, Hansen, B. Thompson, J. Thompson; substitutes: Mortimer, Larroyer, Richards, Dezaria Tries: Reynolds (16), Hansen (20), Mortimer (49), Hutchison (76) Goals: Reynolds 3/4 Salford: Evalds; Olpherts, Welham, Sa’u, Johnson; Shorrocks, Littlejohn; Nakubuwai, Tomkins, Mossop, Hauraki, Griffin, Flanagan; substitutes: Wood, Tasi, McCarthy, Kopczak.

Tries: Evalds (2), Griffin (13) Goals: Shorrocks 1/2 Referee: Liam Moore Half-time: 12-10 Attendance: 4,024