Halifax 18 Leigh 26

Gareth Hock takes the ball in against Halifax. Photo: Brian King
Gareth Hock takes the ball in against Halifax. Photo: Brian King
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LEIGH produced a gutsy second half performance to take two points from Halifax in an absorbing contest at The Shay.

The home side dominated the first half but only managed one try, leaving the door open for the Centurions who had been forced to defend for long periods and were starved of possession.

But after the break Leigh’s pack came to the fore, producing a hard-working display which ground down the home side and a try from Micky Higham sealing victory.

The likes of Fuifui Moimoi and Jake Emmitt turned in huge shifts as Halifax crumbled under Leigh’s weight of possession.

Moimoi’s display was all the more impressive given that he’d been struggling in the build-up with flu.

“Fui was desperate to play,” said Centurions coach Neil Jukes. “That shows the kind of spirit we have in the camp at the moment.

“I am delighted to get the win here given all the off field stuff which has gone on. Our first half performance was not acceptable but even then we defended well. This is a really good win here.”

Leigh had Ben Reynolds making a rare start following his recall from a loan spell at Dewsbury. Full-back Lee Smith was a surprise inclusion after suffering a bicep injury before last Sunday’s game against Sheffield.

Liam Hood was making his debut off the bench and this Leigh line-up still has a patched up look about it though Liam Kay came back into the side on the wing.

Leigh were lucky only to be 6-0 down at the break. Winger Tommy Saxton broke the deadlock for the home side in the 19th minute as he was first to react when Leigh failed to clear a kick to their ingoal area. Steve Tyrer added the conversion.

Halifax continued to dominate with scrum-half Gareth Moore directing play and Leigh had to work hard in defence to protect their tryline.

In contrast Leigh struggled to build pressure and their main attacking threat came from the high kicks of Ridyard and Reynolds.

Only seven minutes of the second half had been played when Leigh were on the scoreboard. Reni Maitua took Ridyard’s short pass at pace and crashed over though Ridyard was unable to goal.

But Leigh were let down by conceding consecutive penalties and Halifax took full advantage, scoring through Adam Tangata in the 53rd minute and Tyrer kicked the conversion.

The return of Higham from the bench prompted a match-defining spell from Leigh and they scored a second try in the 62nd minute - Smith showing a dummy and scoring by the sticks. Ridyard kicked he goal to leave Leigh behind by just two with a quarter of the game to play.

A good spell of Centurions pressure saw Adam Higson tackle Miles Greenwood in his own ingoal and from the drop out, Reynols gave Hock the chance to reach over and score. Ridyard kicked the extras to make it 16-12 with 15 minutes remaining.

Halifax were fighting hard to find a way back but Higham popped up with a try from dummy half to virtually seal the game with seven minutes remaining. A Ridyard conversion gave Leigh a healthy 22-12 lead then a penalty soon after made it a two converted score difference.

There was late drama as a mix up from the restart saw Halifax’s Connor Robinson pounce on a loose ball to score and Tyrer’s goal made it 18-24. An off the ball flare-up between Dane Manning of Halifax and Leigh’s Hock saw the pair sin-binned meaning a frantic end to the game.

But another Ridyard penalty with the hooter just sounded sealed a hard fought Centurions victory.

Teams

Leigh: Smith, Pownall, Whiting, Higson, Kay, Ridyard, Reynolds, Moimoi, Higham, Weston, Hansen, Hock, Paterson. Subs: Hood, Hopkins, Maitua, Emmitt

Halifax: Greenwood, Saxton, Heaton, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Moore, Johnston, Moore, Maneely. Cahalane, Tangata, Manning, A Robinson. Subs: Ambler, C Robinson, Bennion, Bracek

Referee: Richard Silverwood

Pitch: Average

Weather: Sunny

Attendance: 2706