LEIGH Centurions crashed to a surprise home defeat by Dewsbury Rams in the final game of the 2013 Kingstone Press Championship League fixtures.
It was a performance as much about Leigh’s own ineptitude as it was Dewsbury’s prowess with the only saving grace on a dreadfully disappointing afternoon being the fact that the bonus point was enough to ensure a fourth placed finish.
Yet Leigh should never have lost this one. They created enough chances to win two games and scored a couple of top drawer tries that should have sunk the Rams alone. But credit to the Yorkshiremen who never surrendered, rode their luck and aided by a massive penalty count in their favour and a couple of uncharacteristic Leigh mistakes, snatched a victory that had never looked remotely likely until the final ten minutes.
Hopefully Leigh will have put this type of display behind them otherwise they needn’t bother travelling to Featherstone for the play-offs. Perhaps it all seemed too easy when they scored a superb try after two minutes, and again at the start of the second half scored within seconds of the restart. But they looked tired and jaded deep in the game and certainly let down the Leigh fans who expected more in the final League game for this year at the LSV.
Ryan Brierley and Martyn Ridyard tried their best to fire the side forward, and Tommy Goulden, Tom Spencer and Sam Hopkins lifted the side at times, but this was definitely not a game to savour for the Centurions who let slip what should have been a game winning 22-6 lead.
Leigh made an incredible start with a try of the highest quality as Ridyard put Higson through the gap and he then found McNally, who seeing the right pathway to the line blocked put a kick to the right where Maden leap and gathered, to then find Goulden who put Littler in for a sensational score.
The skills shown on that try seemed to spark a period of over elaboration from Leigh and twice they squandered good chances as Maden pushed the ball inside after a great Beswick break had put him in with an opportunity to squeeze in at the corner and then Littler also passed when put through by Brierley and a scoring chance was missed.
Leigh’s own adventurous style was then punished when Kieran Hyde intercepted Brierley’s pass on half away and raced 50 metres for a try he goaled for a shock two point lead on 15 minutes.
Leigh had a Higson try disallowed for obstruction five minutes later but they were camped in the Rams half and eventually on 27 minutes they regained the lead when Brierley put Goulden to the line and he crashed in for a second home lead grabbing try that Ridyard goaled.
Within five minutes Leigh had scored again as McNally put Maden away and his intelligent kick inside was snatched up by Brierley for his customary try and Ridyard goal.
Leigh continued to dominate with that final pass letting them down, but back to back penalties pushed them down field and just before half time they survived James Craven being tackled on his back over the Leigh try line, and then Maden palmed Hyde’s searching kick dead as the hooter sounded with Leigh 16-6 ahead at the break.
Leigh came out of the traps fired up at the start of the second half and scored on their first set of six when Brierley put Pownall in at the corner with a superb long pass, and Ridyard goaled from the touchline.
The home side were fortunate to escape when McNally dropped a Hyde up and under and Lillycrop couldn’t gather to score. And then Craven was brought back for a forward pass off a Karl Pryce flick on. Minutes later Lillycrop and Higson were exchanging punches and both went in the sin bin with the incident on report before Dewsbury doubled their score on 64 minutes when a series of penalties enabled Kane Bentley to crash under the Leigh posts and Hyde goaled.
Leigh were looking lacklustre and the penalties flowed against them with Pryce fending off a couple of tacklers to give the rams a hope of an upset when he crashed in for a third visitors’ try 10 minutes from time with Hyde goaling to close the gap to four points. That upset was certainly on the cards when McNally spilled a kick for the second time and the Rams sent Pryce in for his second try to level three minutes later and Hyde goaled from the try line for the lead with six minutes remaining.
Leigh Centurions: McNally; Maden, Littler, Higson, Pownall; Ridyard, Brierley;
Ostick, Beswick, Spencer, Thornley, Goulden, Aspinwall; subs (all used) - Hopkins, Penkywicz, Bullock, Duffy
Tries: Littler (3), Goulden (27), Brierley (32), Pownall (41)
Sin-bin: Higson (55) for punching
Dewsbury Rams:Tries: Hyde (14), Bentley (64), Pryce (70, 73)
Goals: Hyde 4/4
Sin-bin: Lillycrop (55) for punching
Half Time: 16-6
Referee: Jamie Bloem