Leigh 31 Halifax 8

MITCH Cox came off nightshift to score two first half tries as Leigh finished on top between two team with Wembley on their minds.

Cox’s double and three other touch downs earned John Duffy’s side a sixth win in seven league and cup outings.

Victory over this season’s shock Challenge Cup semi-finalists cements Centurions place in the top four of the Betfred Championship ahead of Sunday’s home game against Bradford Bulls.

Simon Grix has proven an able replacement for long serving Fax boss, Richard Marshall.

But the visitors, who had Dan Fleming sent-off 10 minutes from time, were always second best for a Leigh side giving a debut to latest signing, Liam Forsyth.

“It was a fantastic performance against a really good Halifax team,” said happy coach Duffy.

“We knew we had to be at our best and our lads were outstanding across the board. But we can’t fall in love with ourselves because have another tough game coming up against Bradford.”

Duffy also had praise for Cox whose quickfire double helped Leigh into a 16-0 interval lead.

“We had to feed him when he got here because he had just come off night shift. But he had 16 carries and scored his tries well to show what a great player he is.”

Leigh suffered a 33-26 defeat at the Shay back in February but were fired up to ensure no repeat, a week after boosting their own Wembley ambitions with victory in the AB Sundecks 1895 Cup.

Iain Thornley continued his recent scoring streak to put Leigh ahead inside 13 minutes courtesy of Gregg McNally’s pass.

Lively McNally was always a thorn in Halifax’s side adding further assists for Cox’s tries after 17 and 21 minutes to supplement some valuable defensive duties.

Leigh started the second period with a man advantage after Jacob Fairbank’s yellow card following a bust-up with Toby Adamson towards the end of the first period.

Liam Hood, back after sitting out cup victory over Workington, extended Leigh’s advantage after 52 minutes to put the home side in control.

Martyn Ridyard’s 64th minute penalty made it 22-0 before Chester Butler scored one of the visitors’ two tries.

A feisty encounter erupted as Josh Woods was the recipient of a high tackle. Tempers continued to boil and Fleming was red carded by referee Jack Smith with Thornley was sin binned in the same fracas.

Ridyard claimed his fourth goal and a drop goal before Sam Brooks went over in front of the North Stand for a converted try. James Woodburn-Hall added a consolation for the Yorkshiremen who are eighth, four points behind Leigh.

Match stats:

Leigh: McNally; Cox, Forsyth, I Thornley, Marsh; Ridyard, Woods; Douglas, Higham, Brooks, T Adamson, Batchelor, Cator.

Substitutes: Hood. A Thornley, Spencer, Hock.

Tries: I Thornley (13), Cox (17, 21), Hood (52), Brooks (78)

Goals: Ridyard (5)

Drop-goal: Ridyard

Sin bin: I Thornley (70)

Halifax: Grix; Sharp, Butler, Tyrer, Saltonstall; Murrell, Laulu-Toga’gae; Kavanagh, Kaye, Tangata, Cooper, Larroyer, Fairbank.

Substitutes: Moore, Woodburn-Hall, Morris, Fleming.

Tries: Butler (65), Woodburn-Hall (80)

Goals: Tyrer 0/ 2

Sent-off: Fleming (70); Sin bin: Fairbank (40)

Half-time: 16-0

Referee: Jack Smith

Attendance: 3,361