Leigh’s strong finish has Hawks in a flap

Leigh Centurions forward Andrew Dixon
Leigh Centurions forward Andrew Dixon

Hunslet Hawks 6 Leigh Centurions 42

CHAMPIONSHIP leaders Leigh produced a strong finish to see off a determined challenge from lowly Hunslet in difficult conditions at the South Leeds Stadium.

With around 20 minutes left, the scores were level at 6-6. In fact it was 0-0 until the 36th minute. But Centurions scored seven tries in the final stages to extend their club record winning run to 18 games.

Liam Kay, who has got a try in every game this season, scored twice while the introduction of Sean Penkywicz from the bench in the final quarter for his first stint, proved crucial.

Hunslet will point to the 66th minute sinbinning of Andy Kain when Leigh’s lead was just 16-6. With Kain off the field, Leigh scored three tries.

“I expected it to be a tussle,” said Leigh coach Paul Rowley. “There were no surprises for me in the way Hunslet made life difficult for us. We had to work very hard and the full-time scoreline was very flattering.

“We spoke about being patient and we knew we would get our chances to shine. There wasn’t a lot of space to play out there and it was a very slow game. It was a day when the forwards stood up.

“Our pack made good metres and we already knew we would have the energy.”

There was no score until the 36th minute with chances at a premium in difficult conditions. Oliver Wilkes scored under the posts after following up a break by Martin Aspinwall and Martyn Ridyard added the conversion.

Prior to that, Hunslet had the best chance in the 28th minute when prop Brad Brennan charged through only to be held up over the line.

The home side were level within five minutes of the restart. Centre Luke Briscoe did well to ground a short kick by Kain and Simon Brown added the conversion.

Andrew Dixon blew a golden opportunity in the 50th minute as he spilled a pass after being put through by Ryan Brierley.

Hunslet also had a great chance to go ahead soon after as a flowing counter attack fizzled out just shy of the Leigh tryline.

They were made to rue that miss as Leigh scored a minute later. Bob Beswick made a break and his pass found Aspinwall who scored a converted try.

Centurions could breathe a little easier when Kay slid in at the corner with 15 minutes remaining. Then when Kain was sinbinned for holding down, it signalled the end of Hunslet’s chances.

With Kain off the field, Sam Barlow charged onto Penkywicz short pass to score under the posts and Ridyard added the extras.

Jonny Pownall won the race for a kick to the corner then Penkywicz showed great awareness to fire away from dummy half and score. With Ridyard adding the conversion, Leigh were out of sight at 32-6.

Centurions scored two more tries in the last three minutes. First, Penkywicz made a tremendous break before sending Dixon over then a Tom Armstrong kick sat up nicely for Kay to claim his second.

Leigh: McNally, Pownall, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Moimoi, Beswick, Spencer, Haggerty, Dixon, Barlow. Subs: Penkywicz, Wilkes, Aspinwall, Walker

Hunslet: Watson, Duckworth, Briscoe, Mvududu, Barnett, Kain, Brown, Lyons, Lee, Mulhern, Backhouse, Mackay. Subs: Brennan, Haley, Ansell, Castle

Referee: Chris Kendall

Pitch: Heavy in places

Weather: Damp

Attendance: 1,132