Keighley Cougars 0, Leigh Centurions 26
Leigh Centurions moved into third spot with this controlled taming of Keighley Cougars.
It wasn’t a pretty win, and there were a good number of dropped passes and missed chances, but it was game in which Leigh were in charge for the full 80 minutes against a side that still harboured hopes of overtaking them in the League, and which was full of confidence that they could achieve their aim.
But as much as Leigh may have missed opportunities with ball in hand, when it came to defence they were magnificent, and as the Cougars threatened it was Leigh that showed their teeth with some magnificent defence in which full back Greg McNally proved a solid last line.
The Leigh pack had Tom Spencer in top form alongside Tommy Goulden and Sam Hopkins whilst Martyn Ridyard, John Duffy and Bob Beswick led the side superbly in midfield. Steve Maden and Jonathan Pownall were a constant threat and Andy Thornley and Kevin Nicholson did well from the bench.
Leigh started strongly with Beswick going close to a score in only the third minute whilst Stuart Littler put in a crunching tackle on Danny Moss when the wingman seemed set to score. But there were far too many knock-ons from both sides as Leigh denied Danny Jones, before Matt Gardner was just beaten to a Ridyard bomb.
Finally the deadlock was broken in the 25th minute when Leigh struck twice. Keighley again spilled the ball and Beswick and Ridyard combined to send McNally arcing in for they first of his two tries, the second of which came two minutes later when Duffy put Hopkins through a gap and his inside pass sent McNally in for a Ridyard goaled score and a 10 point lead.
Keighley’s Sam Obst broke clear and looked set to score but McNally magnificently hunted him down, and then Jones lost the ball over the Leigh line as the home side pressed hard, whilst Maden stepped inside and was unable to take Goulden’s pass that would have put him in at he corner.
With half time approaching, Duffy’s kick through was hacked on by Ridyard and the half back regathered for a try and a 14-0 interval lead.
The second half again proved a war of attrition, and when Hopkins was sin binned on 64 minutes, Leigh had it all to do. But the visitors stepped up their effort and Ridyard’s cut out pass put Pownall in at the corner, Ridyard adding the touchline conversion for good measure.
With seven minutes remaining the win was finally tied up with a superb Beswick 40/20 setting up position, and a penalty then enabling Goulden. Ryan Brierley and McNally to combine to put Pownall in for his second and Leigh’s fifth try. Ridyard gaoled and Leigh had a superb victory under their belt.
Leigh Centurions: McNally; Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall; Ridyard, Duffy; Ostick, Beswick, Spencer, Briscoe, Goulden, Hopkins; subs (all used) - Brierley, Nicholson, Henderson, Thornley.
Tries: McNally (2), Ridyard, Pownall (2)
Goals: Ridyard 3/5
Sin bin Hopkins (64) lying on
Referee: Jamie Leahy
Half time: 14-0