JOHN Duffy left his players in no doubt of his feelings despite Ryan Brierley’s drop goal completing a second half comeback for the Betfred Championship top five challengers.

Leigh Centurions edged Swinton Lions 31-30, but the hangover from Centurions’ 1895 Cup semi-final defeat to Widnes lingered longer than head coach Duffy wanted or expected against one of his former teams.

And Lions winger Matty Ashton joined an unwanted and select club of players to score four tries and finish on the losing side.

A match of four sin binnings ­— two on either side-saw Swinton lead 24-10 when Mike Butt touched down a few minutes before half-time.

Crucially, Matty Costello cut Leigh’s deficit with a try just before the hooter.

The recovery continued after the break with 17 unanswered points including Brierley’s vital drop goal after the same player had missed three of his five attempts from the kicking tee.

That gave Leigh a seven-point advantage, reduced to just one when Ashton added to his 17-minute, first half hat-trick.

“We took two points, that’s about it,” said a far from impressed Duffy. “I’ve never seen us like that.

“Credit to Swinton, they were absolutely superb and they have been in the last few games.

“We knew that but unfortunately, we didn’t turn up with the right attitude.

“We shouldn’t need Ryan’s drop-goal.

“You can’t turn up with that attitude and I’ve just told the players that.

“It’s not acceptable at this club.

“I don’t know why they did that at this stage of the season so there were some harsh words said at half-time and again after the game.”

Leigh’s return to winning ways was crucial with top five rivals, York, Toulouse and Featherstone all winning; Rovers also coming from behind to win by a point.

Leigh started encouragingly enough with ex Lion Andy Thornley going over and Brierley converting after five minutes.

But Stuart Littler’s visitors hit back to register the next 20 points with Ashton crossing for a treble and Jack Hansen booting four goals.

In between, Brierley was yellow carded by referee Gareth Hewer for holding down.

In a flurry to end the opening period Liam Forsyth and Costello went over for Leigh with Butt crossing for the Lions.

No doubt stung by Duffy’s harsh interval words, Leigh hit back with a Mitch Clark try only for Joe Cator plus Swinton’s Rhodri Lloyd and Sammy Kibula to be binned for fighting.

With Swinton down to 11 men, Junior Sa’u’s first try for Leigh brought the teams level.

Cory Paterson’s 69th minute try gave Centurions the lead for the first time and Brierley’s drop goal was extra insurance against Ashton’s individual scoring feat.

Match stats:

Leigh: McNally; Forsyth, Sa’u, I Thornley, Costello; Ridyard Brierley; Douglas, Hood, Brooks, Laithwaite, A. Thornley, Paterson.

Substitutes: Eaves, Cator, Clark, Emmitt.

Tries: A Thornley (5), Forsyth (35), Costello (40), Clark (46), Sa’u (63), Paterson (69)

Goals: Brierley (2), Ridyard (1)

Drop-goal: Brierley (79)

Sin bins: Brierley (22), Cator (57)


Hansen; Ashton, Mullen, Hankinson, Butt; Shorrocks, Fairclough; Jones, Waterworth, Hatton, Lloyd, Halton, Gregson.

Substitutes: Brickhill, Kenga, Kibula, Morris.

Tries: Ashton (13, 19, 31, 80), Butt (38)

Goals: Hansen 5/6

Sin bins: Kibula (57), Lloyd (57)

Referee: Gareth Hewer;

Attendance: 3,155

Half-time: 14-24