Keighley Cougars 16 Leigh Centurions 46
Ryan Brierley blazed in for a hat trick of tries as Leigh Centurions dispensed of a determined Keighley Cougars in the Kingstone Press Championship.
Playing up the slope in the first period Leigh were made to work hard for a narrow interval lead. But with Martyn Ridyard and Brierley superb at half back and James Taylor, Sam Hopkins and Craig Briscoe taking the ball forward superbly, the second was theirs to command.
Leigh got the perfect start with a Matt Gardner try in the fifth minute when he chased after a perfectly weighted Bob Beswick kick into the in goal to touch down for Beswick to goal. But the home side who were seeking their first win in five outings, gave their vociferous fans something to cheer almost on the quarter mark when good pressure was rewarded with Richie Barnett finishing off a well worked move for Chris Leatherbarrow to goal and level.
Leigh had Stuart Littler and Greg McNally forced to defend as the home side earned a couple of drop outs, and they made it eventually pay when ex-Super League sprinter Paul White sent Barnett over for his second try that went ungoaled.
Leigh were soaking up a lot of pressure as the home pack drove in hard, but Leigh kept their cool and when the Cougars helped them up field with a couple of penalties, the powerful surge of Tommy Goulden and an outrageous dummy saw the second rower go in for a Ridyard try to snatch back the lead with six minutes to the break.
Leigh suddenly had the Cougars reeling and when Simon Finnigan made half break, his one-handed pass was enough to send the will-o-th-wisp Brierley in for his second try that Ridyard goaled for a welcome 18-10 interval lead.
It was perhaps more than Leigh deserved but their defensive effort had been immense.
The start of the second half saw Leigh determined to put the challenge of the Cougars to bed and when Craig Briscoe powered in from close range on 45 minutes off Beswick’s well timed pass it was just the score Leigh needed.
McNally linked in and then lofted a superb pass to put Steve Maden in at the corner some five minutes later and although Ridyard missed his only kick of the day, Leigh were in full flow.
Young Ryan Duffy continued to highlight his promise with a close range touchdown on 58minutes and after the Cougars rallied and tried to put Leigh under pressure, Brierley snapped up a spilled ball and raced the length of the field for his second score of the day some four minutes later.
His hat trick came on 71 minutes when he backed up another thrilling Leigh move. The Cougars pulled back a consolation try from White , but it was Leigh in command to the end as they prepared to meet Sheffield Eagles this Friday night at the LSV.
Keighley Cougars: White, Barnett, Sagar, Lawton, Duffy, Jones, Leatherbarrow, Hesketh, Feather, Shicknell, Pursglove, Martin. Subs all used: Smith, Sheriffe, Law, Shepherd.
Tries: Barnett (19, 27), White (71)
Goals: Leatherbarrow 2/3
Leigh Centurions: McNally, Maden, Little, Gardner, Pownall, Ridyard, Brierley, Taylor, Beswick, Spencer, Goulden, Finnigan, Hopkins. Subs all used: Penkywicz, Duffy, Briscoe, Ostick.
Try: Gardner (5), Brierley (35, 62,71), Goulden (31), Briscoe (42), Maden (50), Duffy (58)
Goal: Ridyard 6/7 , Beswick 1/1
Half time: 18-10
Referee: Ron Laughton