Leigh Centurions 36 Featherstone Rovers 12
Leigh Centurions were tonight crowned the Kingstone Press Championship Champions after a thrilling win over Featherstone Rovers at Headingley.
Paul Rowley’s side raced into an 18-0 lead though were put under intense pressure after the break when Featherstone got within eight points and then had a try disallowed.
But Leigh finished strongly, scoring a killer try through Adam Higson to open up a significant lead and then adding two more as Rovers’ heads went down.
It crowned an incredible season for Leigh who won the Leaders Shield and also reached the quarter finals of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.
There were only five minutes on the clock when Leigh took the lead. Liam Kay made a fine break down the wing and his pass infield found Matt Sarsfield to finish off from 20 metres. Martyn Ridyard added the conversion.
Centurions continued to control things but they were almost caught out by a counter attack from Featherstone, Gareth Moore hauled down by a superb tackle from Ryan Brierley.
Leigh doubled their lead in the 18th minute. Sean Penkywicz made a strong break through the middle and his pass found Brierley who had Gregg McNally in support to finish off a superb attack. Ridyard added the extras from touch.
Things got even better for Leigh when they scored a third try in the 24th minute - a simple score from Tom Armstrong as he took the ball from the base of the scrum to stroll over. Ridyard’s conversion made it 18-0
Featherstone got themselves back into the game 12 minutes before half-time when Andy Kain’s crossfield kick on the last tackle was well claimed by Will Sharp to score. Gareth Moore added the extras.
The score invigorated Rovers who started to enjoy more quality possession but crucially Leigh stemmed the tide. Centurions’ Martin Aspinwall saw a ‘try’ disallowed by the video referee after he looked to ground a kick to the ingoal area. Leigh did, however, add further points through a Ridyard penalty three minutes before half-time for an infringement in the tackle.
Rovers made a sensational start to the second half and their talented winger Sharp did brilliantly to score in the corner under pressure. Moore’s goal cut Leigh’s lead to just eight.
Featherstone continued to dominate and had a try disallowed by the video ref.
But having soaked up so much pressure, Leigh produced a stunning try from Adam Higson from a quickly taken tap penalty. The winger scored out wide after a long pass from Brierley had created the danger.
Both sides were reduced to 12 men 11 minutes from the end when Jason Crookes of Featherstone and Leigh’s Penkywicz were sinbinned for fighting.
Centurions wrapped up the game with a try from Sam Barlow with five inutes remaining, converted by Ridyard. And with time almost up, a stunning move saw Michael Platt link with Higson before sending Brierley away for the try.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Platt, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Emmitt, Penkywicz, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Walker, Acton, Aspinwall
Tries: Sarsfield, McNally, Armstrong, Barlow, Brierley, Higson
Goals: Ridyard 6/8
Featherstone: Sharp, Crookes, Hardman, Cording, Blackmore, Kain, Moore, Crossley, Ellis, James, Pick, Lockwood, Spears. Subs: Teasdale, Annakin, Hirst, Bussey
Tries: Sharp 2
Goals: Moore 2/2
Pitch: Very good
Weather: Fine and dry
Referee: Matt Thomason