Centurions crush 12-man Eagles

Gregg McNally receives treatment
Gregg McNally receives treatment

Leigh Centurions 58 Sheffield Eagles 18

LIAM Kay and Gregg McNally both scored hat-tricks as Leigh Centurions cemented their place at the top of the Kingstone Press Championship with a crushing win over Sheffield.

The visitors had their scrum-half Cory Aston sent off after just three minutes for an illegal challenge on McNally who was later stretchered off following what appeared to be a badly timed challenge from Eagles centre Sam Smeaton.

The incidents bookended an at times hugely impressive display from Leigh who next week go to Warrington in the quarter finals of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

Following Aston’s early red card, Leigh made the most of their extra man with two tries in as many minutes. Gareth Hock made a surging break and his pass got Greg Worthington in at the corner. Martyn Ridyard added the extras.

From the restart, a strong kick return from Fufui Moimoi saw the Tongan prop pass superbly in the tackle to Ryan Brierley and he sent McNally racing clear to complete a fine move. Ridyard again goaled.

Centurions continued to dominate and scored a third try after 14 minutes when Brierley took an interception pass and raced 80 metres. Ridyard added the extras.

Another Brierley interception led to Leigh’s next try - this time he broke up the Sheffield attack before passing to Adam Higson who marked his 100th Centurions appearance with a try. Ridyard’s conversion made it 24-0.

The visitors were gifted a try six minutes before the break when an Andrew Dixon pass was intercepted by Sheffield centre Sam Smeaton and he ran 70 metres to score. Kyle Briggs was unable to add the goal.

But Leigh replied on the stroke of half-time when Micky Higham, Brierley and finally Ridyard sent passes left and there was winger Kay to finish off.

Dave Peterson replied for the visitors early in the second half but Leigh responded with three unanswered tries. McNally scored his second after a set move from dummy half then he completed his hat-trick moments later after some good work from the busy Higham. With Ridyard kicking well, Leigh led 40-8 after 52 minutes.

Kay scored his second in the 56th minute before Sheffield replied through Dane Straughier on the hour mark. Kyle Briggs added the conversion.

Leigh were reduced to 12 men and Sheffield to 11 in the 66th minute when Hock retaliated to a punch from Misi Taulapapa.

With 10 minutes remaining, Kay completed his hat-trick but the try was overshadowed by the late shot on McNally which saw play held up for several minutes. The incident was placed on report. After the lengthy hold-up, Ridyard added the conversion.

With six minutes remaining, the try of the game saw a multi-player move prominently involving Tommy Goulden, Brierley end with Tom Armstrong scoring against his former club. Ridyard’s conversion was his ninth from 10.

Sheffield completed the scoring with a try from Taulapapa with seconds of the game remaining.

Teams

Leigh: McNally, Higson, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Moimoi, Beswick, Emmitt, Dixon, Goulden, Hock. Subs: Higham, Hopkins, Spencer, Wilkes

Sheffield: Laulu-Togagae, Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Briggs, Aston, Thorpe, Carlile, Stringer, Knowles, Davies, Taulapapa. Subs: Petersen, Straughier, Battye, Tonks

Referee: Mike Woodhead

Pitch: Excellent

Weather: Dry and bright

Attendance: 3,572