LEIGH RUfC emerged victorious in their first game of 2018, defeating struggling New Brighton at Hand Lane.

The experience and influence of captain Ross Shepherd, Paul Hampson and Paul Trumble, who returned to the pack after a long lay-off, proved vital in this workmanlike 13-3 success.

Brutal forward exchanges early in the fixture cost New Brighton two front rowers in quick succession and resulted in uncontested scrums for the rest of the match.

New Brighton dominated first-half possession, taking a 3-0 lead through a converted penalty. However, several phases of attack on the opposition line allowed the breakthrough for Leigh shortly before half time.

Jimmy Wilkinson skipped around a floundering defence to draw in the last defender before putting away Ollie Shepherd.

It wasn’t long into the second half before Leigh extended their lead through another scintillating run from Wilkinson, again feeding Ollie Shepherd for his second try.

The remainder of the half saw both sides defending in equal measure. Notable efforts from Leigh’s Dan Hunter, Rob Drake and Connor Longford kept New Brighton 10 points adrift.

Leigh, currently sixth in South Lancs and Cheshire Division One, visit 11th placed Hoylake on Saturday, 2.15pm.