Leigh Centurions 50 Doncaster 20
LEIGH equaled the club record for most consecutive wins - 14 - by beating Doncaster at the Sports Village to stay seven points clear at the top of the Kingstone Press Championship.
Nine different players scored for the Centurions while Marytn Ridyard kicked seven conversions as the class of 2014 matched a record set by the Championship winners of 1982 then repeated in 1986.
Doncaster, with player-coach Paul Cooke in vintage form, proved stubborn opposition in the first half but were blown away after the restart by Leigh’s expansive attacking football which yielded five tries.
Half-backs Ryan Brierley and Martyn Ridyard were at their creative best while there were strong contributions from forwards Tom Spencer, Sam Hopkins, Bob Beswick and Tommy Goulden. Leigh also had youngster Lewis Foster on the bench replacing the suspended Sean Penkywicz.
Leigh raced into a 12-0 lead with Ryan Brierley at the centre of things. His well-timed pass got Cameron Pitman in at the corner before breaking clear and passing inside to the supporting Bob Beswick to complete a 50 metre attack. Ridyard converted both.
With Cooke directing play, Doncaster hit back in the 20th minute. Mike Kelly and Kyle Kesik combined to send Liam Kent over for a try which Stewart Sanderson converted.
Leigh replied quickly - Gregg McNally going over after swapping passes with Liam Kay and Ridyard’s conversion restored the home side’s lead to 12 points. But back came Doncaster with Cook’s long pass putting Tom Hodson in at the corner.
An acrobatic finish from winger Adam Higson after McNally’s long pass - converted by Ridyard from touch - re-opened the two converted score gap but moments before the half-time hooter, Doncaster’s lively full-back David Scott scored to make it 22-14 at the break.
Tom Armstrong had a try disallowed for double movement early in the second half but Leigh did score in the 50th minute. A one-on-one ball steal by Kay after he chased back to tackle Scott gave Centurions the impetus and as they rolled forward, Brierley finished off in style. Ridyard again goaled.
From the restart, Hopkins produced a superb 50 metre break through the middle but chose to go it alone when he had support. It mattered not. With the Doncaster defence struggling to regroup, Matt Sarsfield went over with Ridyard adding the conversion to open up a 34-14 lead.
Cooke replied for the visitors with a try converted by Sanderson in the 57th minute and a bonus point was clearly in their sights.
But Leigh scored back-to-back tries to end Doncaster’s hopes. Lewis Foster and Brierley combined to give Kurt Haggerty space to score and from the restart, Centurions powered straight back upfield and scored the try of the game. Ridyard’s angled kick to the corner was well caught by Kay who flicked the ball infield for Tommy Goulden to score.
With time almost up, Leigh cashed in on a 40-20 kick with quick passing getting Armstrong over to bring up the half century.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Emmitt, Sarsfield, Goulden, Hopkins. Subs: Foster, Wilkes, Acton, Haggerty
Tries: Pitman, Beswick, McNally, Higson, Brierley, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Goulden, Armstrong
Goals: Ridyard 7 (from 9 attempts)
Doncaster: Scott, Hodson, Leaf, Waterman, Sanderson, Cooke, Wilde, Carbutt, Kesik, Robinson, Kent, Kelly, Emmett. Subs: Starling, Wilson, Spiers, Spaven
Tries: Kent, Hodson, Scott, Cooke
Goals: Sanderson 2 (from 4 attempts)
Referee: Tom Crashley
Weather: Warm and sunny