Leigh Centurions 24 London Broncos 20

Gareth Hock in action against London. Photo: Paul McCarthy Photography
Gareth Hock in action against London. Photo: Paul McCarthy Photography
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LEIGH produced a dramatic fightback to overhaul a 20-6 deficit against London and win 24-20.

Neil Jukes’ side scored three tries in five minutes during an amazing second half spell and preserve their unbeaten home league record at the LSV which stretches back to 2013.

Centurions endured a torrid first half where they struggled to create any pressure and were battered in the penalty count by referee George Stokes. They also had two players sin-binned as London built a 14-0 lead.

Badly hit by injuries, Leigh were missing seven first team regulars: Gregg McNally, Tom Armstrong, Willie Tonga, Liam Kay, Martyn Ridyard, Andrew Dixon and Bob Beswick. But their situation was made even worse when skipper Micky Higham had to go off after just seven minutes only to reappear in the second half with a heavily strapped knee.

London, who were the only team to beat Leigh in a Championship game last year and had won their opening two games of the season, built a 14-0 lead. Second rower Alex Foster scored from close range in the 14th minute but Wes Naiqama couldn’t convert.

Leigh’s problems worsened shortly after when they reduced to 12 men following the sin-binning of Dayne Weston. Referee Stokes had placed the team on a warning after a string of penalties in quick succession and Weston saw yellow for interference at the play the ball.

Unable to get out of their own half, Leigh were undone again in the 23rd minute when hooker James Cunningham reached out in the tackle to score. Naiqama again failed with the conversion.

Ten minutes before half-time, Leigh were down to 11 men momentarily as Jake Emmitt was sin-binned for interference at the play the ball just after the team had been placed on another warning. Weston returned but London scored a third try through Rhys Williams which Naiqama converted from the touchline.

Five minutes before half-time, Sam Hopkins, who scored a hat-trick of tries last week against Oldham, barged over from close range and with Lee Smith adding the goal, Leigh at least had a foothold in the game at 6-14. Jamie Acton almost scored just before the break but was held up over the tryline.

Leigh looked a lot sharper after the break with the returning Higham sparking the attacks again from dummy half. But against the run of play, London scored a fourth try in the 57th minute when Ben Helliwell cut infield to score a try which Naiqama converted.

At 20-6 down things looked bleak for Leigh but they produced a stunning last quarter. First Gareth Hock made a strong break and his pass in the tackle found Acton who touched down under the posts. Smith added the extras.

Minutes later, Leigh were in again. This time it was Jake Emmitt taking a short ball from Higham to crash in. Smith’s conversion meant Leigh were back within two points of the visitors.

The fightback was complete 13 minutes from the end when a stunning multi-player attack which covered almost the length of the pitch ended with Rangi Chase scoring by the sticks and Smith added the goal.

London still had plenty of attacking possession in the closing stages but they were kept out by some determined Leigh defence.

Teams

Leigh: Smith, Higson, Worthington, Whiting, Pownall, Chase, Brierley, Moimoi, Higham, Weston, Hansen, Maitua, Hock. Subs: Foster, Hopkins, Acton, Emmitt

London: Walker, Williams, Helliwell, Naiqama, Macani, Keyes, Leatherbarrow, Slyney, Cunningham, Ioane, Foster, Garside, Busseyy. Subs: Ackers, Harrison, Thackray, Battye

Referee: George Stokes

Attendance: 3,291

Pitch: Very good

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