Widnes RUFC 19 Leigh RUFC 12

THE driving rain and howling gale blew from the south, making this one look like it would be a game of two halves.

But neither side let the conditions dictate their mood, and opened up the game with positive running rugby.

Leigh played into the wind in the first half and kept the ball in hand, soon getting to the edges with Rob Drake finishing off a move he had started with a try in the corner.

He then hit a great touchline conversion to put the visitors 7-0 up after 2 minutes.

Widnes applied pressure with effective kicking with the wind at their backs, and using short multi-phase driving play off the floor.

They were soon rewarded with two successive kickable penalties duly despatched to bring it back to a one-point game after 25 minutes.

Leigh then had prop Hunter sin binned and from the resulting penalty Widnes made it 9-7 at half time.

Leigh turned around confident at half time, that with the strong wind at their backs enough territory would provide the opportunities needed to win the game, but Widnes had other ideas and put together their best move of the game to open up the half in similar fashion to how Leigh had in the first for a 14-7 cushion.

Leigh couldn’t quite gain the upper hand in the opening exchanges of the half with the game now being dictated by increasingly worse conditions, very slippery underfoot and storm force winds.

Both teams exchanged unsuccessful penalty attempts before Leigh finally gained enough space to put Olly Shepherd through the smallest of gaps for him to win the race to the line. The try went unconverted.

Another kickable penalty was further squandered by Leigh, and perhaps with that miss, the momentum of the game turned in Widnes’ favour as a break up the left touchline gave them enough territory to barge over the line from good driving play for the final score.

Leigh can rue missed opportunities in this very closely contested game, but can take heart from the bonus point and the fact that this was overall a solid performance in appalling conditions.