NENE Macdonald scored a debut hat-trick as Leigh launched a new era under coach Adrian Lam, with a nine- try Betfred Championship 50-4 victory over Whitehaven.

But the club’s past was also remembered during a two-minute applause for legendary winger, Des Drummond, who died a day earlier, aged 63.

And this emphatic win on the opening day of the 2022 campaign was another fitting way to mark the passing of ‘our Dessie.’ Leigh’s triumph on their return to the game’s second tier was their 12th in succession against their Cumbrian visitors.

Leigh Journal:

They led 28-0 at half time and kicked-off the second period against 10-men after referee James Child sin binned Jake Moore, Andrew Bulman and Callum Phillips in quick succession.

Even with ‘Haven at full strength, there was little expectation of anything else but a home win especially when new crowd favourite Macdonald celebrated his debut with an eighth minute touch down.

Even at this early stage, his combination with winger Kieron Dixon looks to be a promising one.

Leigh Journal:

Dixon accepted the Papua New Guinean’s pass for a 15th minute touchdown as Ben Reynolds kicked the first of his seven goals.

Dixon had a try disallowed for a forward pass before Joe Mellor went short side to send in full-back Caleb Aekins to also score on debut.

Keanan Brand notched try number four after Sam Stone’s surging line break before Mr Child’s surge of yellow cards for a professional foul (Moore), dissent (Bulman) and finally for a late hit by Phillips following Tom Nisbet’s try.

With a three-man advantage Leigh quickly racked up further points at the start of the second period.

Reynolds sent over Macdonald before the experienced NRL star powered 30-metres to complete his treble, signalling his delight to the North Stand as he touched down after 47-minutes.

Whitehaven, without a victory in this fixture since 2009, avoided a whitewash when Will Evans crossed after 54 minutes.

Leigh Journal:

However, Mark Ioane and Nisbet added further scores for Centurions with Reynolds’ final goal bringing up a half century of points.

Teams: Leigh: Aekins; Dixon, Brand, Macdonald, Nisbet; Reynolds, Mellor; Sidlow, Smith, Green, Stone, Chamberlain, Asiata; subs (all used) Amone, Hingano, Ioane, Jones.

Whitehaven: Doyle; Eccleston, Moore, Evans, Bulman; Bishop, Williams; McAvoy, Newton, Riley, King, Cooper, Wilkinson; subs (all used): Phillips, Aiye, Hudson, Walker.

Referee: James Child Attendance: 3,334