Leigh Centurions 34 Widnes Vikings 22

MARTYN Ridyard became only the third player in Leigh history to score 2,000 points as Centurions secured their top five play-off place in the Betfred Championship, writes Trevor Baxter.

Victory was scant consolation for last month’s defeat by the Vikings in the 1895 Cup semi-final.

But it was a confidence boost ahead of next month’s assault on promotion and a testing final two games of the regular season against York and Toronto.

Ridyard, partnered at half-back by ‘debutant’ Ben Reynolds, kicked five goals as John Duffy’s side ran in six tries to record an 18th league success of the year.

He now joins John Woods (2,492) and Jimmy Ledgard (2,194) as exclusive members of the 2,000 club.

Duffy said: "It was a proud moment for Martyn. All his family were here and it's a great achievement by him."

Ridyard added: "I'm proud of the achievement and I want to keep plodding on and get as many points as I can.

“The first achievement was just to play for the town and as the points were building up the targets were there.”

Leigh, opting not to hand a debut to England star, Kevin Brown, scored four of their tries in the opening period to lead 22-6 at the break.

They stayed ahead in the second half even though Vikings improved to register three tries as Centurions’ suffered a series of injuries.

On achieving top five status Duffy said: ““It’s a massive achievement from where we were in November.

“At my first training session we had nine players, didn’t have any kit, not even a ball. But we know we need to get better.

“It’s been tough especially at the start of the journey. We’ve recruited well and everyone has bought into what I wanted to achieve.

“We’ve just got to carry on and finish the league strongly and then have a big effort at the play-offs.”

Adam Higson and Jayden Hatton swopped tries early on to leave the teams level at 6-all.

Andy Thornley-then crossed twice with Ridyard converting both to bring up his landmark total.

Former Widnes winger, Stefan Marsh, went over before the break to put Leigh in the driving seat.

Keanan Brand gave the visitors some hope at the start of the second half only for Liam Hood to touch down against his one-time paymasters to restore the 16 points margin.

Marsh took his season’s try tally to 10 with 13 minutes left, sandwiched between further Widnes scores for Olly Ashall-Bolt and centre Brand.

Match stats:

Leigh: Brierley; Higson, Sa’u, I.Thornley, Marsh; Ridyard, Reynolds; Douglas, Higham, Thompson, T. Adamson, A Thornley, Cator. Substitutes: Hood, Clark, Emmitt, Paterson.

Tries: Higson (6), A Thornley (19, 30), Marsh (38, 67), Hood (54)

Goals: Ridyard (5)

Widnes: Ashall-Bolt; Ince, Roby, Brand, Hatton; Gilmore, Lyons; T Chapelhow, Ganson, Cahill, Hansen, Robson, Walker.

Substitutes: J Chapelhow, Dugdale, Farnworth, Leuluai.

Tries: Hatton (9), Brand (47, 76), Ashall-Bott (58)

Goals: Gilmore (3)

Referee: Greg Dolan

Attendance: 3,559

Half-time: 22-6