Leigh Centurions 52 Sheffield Eagles 16
LEIGH breathed life into their Super 8 campaign with a resounding nine try win over Championship rivals Sheffield.
Ryan Brierley scored a hat-trick while Martyn Ridyard kicked eight goals as Leigh won their first game in the qualifier series.
The Kingstone Press Championship League Leaders Shield winners raced into a 24-10 interval lead before adding a further five tries after the restart.
Hooker Micky Higham took the Man of the Match award on a day when Leigh coach Paul Rowley left out regular hooker Bob Beswick in favour of an extra half-back in Ben Reynolds.
It was Higham who kickstarted Leigh after a tetchy opening against a team who Leigh had already beaten home and away in the league in the regular season.
His 12th minute try came - inevitably- from dummy half after Jamie Acton had been tackled inches short of the tryline. Martyn Ridyard added the conversion.
But Ridyard was sinbinned moments later for holding down just after referee James Child put Leigh on a team warning for persistent offending.
With Centurions down to 12 men, Sheffield took full advantage by levelling the scores. Hooker James Davey went in from dummy half and Pat Walker’s goal made it 6-6.
But Leigh took a grip on the game by scoring three tries in five minutes. A kick to the corner was palmed back infield to Andrew Dixon who touched down. Ridyard again goaled.
A telling break through the middle by the busy Higham carved open the Sheffield defence and he had Ryan Brierley in support to score from 20 metres for a try which Ridyard again goaled.
Brierley claimed a second try moments later after Leigh kept the ball alive on the last tackle. Gregg McNally’s pass sent Greg Worthington clear before the move was carried on by Jonny Pownall and Tommy Goulden, the latter passing to Brierley who touched down. Ridyard added his fourth conversion.
Seconds before half-time, Sheffield gave themselves a lifeline when Dominic Brambani’s kick to the corner was brilliantly claimed by Scott Turner to score in the corner and make it 24-10 at the break.
Some sensational handling overstretched the Sheffield defence eight minutes into the second half - Liam Kay on the end of things to score his 36th of the season. The try meant Kay equalled the club record for tries in a season by a winger, a feat first achieved by Bill Kindon in the 1956-57 season. Ridyard added the extras.
In the 58th minute Fuifui Moimoi took a short ball to steam over from close range in the 58th minute - then celebrated with the Hayne Plane - arms fully outstretched in tribute to his old Parramatta Eeels team-mate and current talk of the NFL Jarryd Hayne.
A Sam Smeaton interception try briefly stemmed the tide after he picked out Higham’s wayward pass on the hour mark, Walker’s conversion making it 36-16.
But Leigh turned the screw with Brierley claiming his hat-trick after going almost the length of the pitch for an interception try with 16 minutes remaining.
Sheffield were reduced to 12-men when Tony Tonks was sinbinned for a high tackle on Leigh’s Jonny Pownall and Centurions took full advantage with further tries from Goulden and McNally.
McNally, Pownall, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Moimoi, Higham, Emmitt, Dixon, Goulden, Acton. Subs: Reynolds, Wilkes, Spencer, Aspinwall
Laulu-Togage, Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Brambani, Aston, Battye, Carlile, Tonks, Knowles, Straughier, Walker. Subs: Davey, Davies, Taulapapa, Scott
Referee: James Child
Weather: Dry with sunny spells