Doncaster 24 Leigh Centurions 16
LEIGH suffered their first league defeat of the season as Doncaster ended Centurions’ record breaking run of 18 successive victories at the Keepmoat Stadium.
You have to go back to September last year for Leigh’s last league defeat and the run is the club’s best ever start to the season.
Not that any of those stats will provide any comfort to Leigh’s battle weary players who were intent on recording a 19th straight win. The loss of half-back Ryan Brierley proved crucial because Martyn Ridyard was already missing through injury. Bob Beswick and Gregg McNally were forced into duty as emergency half-backs while Jonny Pownall had to go to full-back. It was a reorganisation Leigh never really recovered from although Brierley was thrown on with minutes remaining for one final throw of the dice with defeat seemingly inevitable.
But this wasn’t all about Leigh being off key - Doncaster played extremely well and their defence kept Leigh out for the entire second half.
Leigh had looked on course for a win for most of the game, leading 16-6 well into the second half. Doncaster had led early through an interception try from Tom Hodson, converted by Dave Scott.
Leigh were soon level - Sam Barlow’s pass in the tackle finding Martin Aspinwall who scored a try which Ryan Brierley converted.
Centurions led in the 23rd minute, Brierley with an arcing 50 metre run to the line after another superb Barlow pass. Brierley pulled up just after scoring and had to leave the field. Kurt Haggerty took over the goal kicking role but was off target.
Nine minutes before the break, Leigh went further in front when a Liam Kay break took Centurions deep inside the Doncaster half and Sean Penkywicz was able to score from close range. Haggerty’s goal gave Leigh a 16-6 lead which is how it stayed until 10 minutes into the second half.
Doncaster’s Scott Spaven raced in unopposed as the Leigh defence melted away and a Scott conversion cut Leigh’s lead to 16-12.
McNally almost scored on the hour mark but was instead penalised for double movement. Within three minutes, the home side were level as Hodson’s flighted kick to the corner was claimed by Ben Crookes who touched down. Scott was unable to goal.
The home side continued to press and it was no surprise when fast hands to the corner got Hodson over for a try which Scott again failed to convert.
Trailing for the first time in the game, Leigh enjoyed a long spell of sustained pressure but were unable to craft an opening against some determined Doncaster defence. With the hooter sounding, Leigh desperately tried to keep the ball alive but were undone when Crooks seized on a wayward pass before sprinting 80 metres to score. Scott was unable to convert.
Team: McNally, Pownall, Hankinson, Armstrong, Kay, Beswick, Brierley, Spencer, Penkywicz, Aspinwall, Haggerty, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Higson, Hopkins, Wilkes, Emmitt
Tries: Aspinwall, Brierley, Penkywicz
Goals: Brierley 1/1; Haggerty 1/2
Team: Scott, Sanderson, Welham, Crooks, Hodson, Miller, Wilkinson, Carbutt, Kesik, Robinson, Starling, Snitch, Emmett. Subs: Spaven, Spiers, Wilson, Waterman
Tries: Hodson 2, Crooks 2, Spaven
Goals: Scott 2/5
Referee: Tom Crashley
Weather: Dry and sunny