Rowley hails Centurions’ second half fightback

Jonny Pownall reaches over to score for Leigh Centurions at Wakefield. Paul McCarthy Photography
Jonny Pownall reaches over to score for Leigh Centurions at Wakefield. Paul McCarthy Photography

Leigh boss Paul Rowley has praised the fighting spirit of his team after they fought back from 22-0 down to beat Wakefield 36-30.

In what must rank as one of the greatest ever wins for Leigh in the famous old competition, Centurions pulled off their second success over Super League opposition in successive rounds.

Leigh were below par in the first half, but they grabbed a lifeline with Ryan Brierley’s 33rd-minute try and they responded to coach Paul Rowley’s interval pep talk.

“It was the easiest half-time speech I’ve ever had to give,” Rowley said. “We had 37 per cent completion so it was quite obvious what we had to do. You don’t have to re-write the rules, do you?

“In contrast in that second half, we completed 20 out of 22 sets and at one point we had 11 against two. Give us a fair share or a lion’s share of possession and we’re a good team.

“We knew that Wakefield hadn’t scored enough points with the amount of possession and territory they’d had.

“I told them to attack right because they loaded up defensively that side and the first time we did go right we scored. So basically we put our game in order in that second half and the result showed.”

Jonny Pownall, Bob Beswick, Tom Armstrong, Sam Hopkins and former Wakefield forward Oliver Wilkes went over for tries in the second half and Martyn Ridyard kicked six goals as the Centurions extended their club record winning run to 25 matches and set up a Cup quarter-final meeting with Warrington.

“The elation of the win is just as good as beating any Championship opposition,” Rowley added. “I think the manner of the victory is what makes it extra special. It was a great comeback.”

Wakefield coach James Webster spoke of his frustration after the Wildcats crashed out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, admitting he has tried unsuccessfully to offload players in a bid to shake up his struggling team.

Webster’s men are rooted to the foot of the Super League table after losing their last 11 games and they are out of the Cup after Sunday’s 36-30 sixth-round home defeat by Championship side Leigh.

Webster, Super League’s youngest head coach, quipped that it was his last press conference as he entered the media room and went on to reveal his dis-satisfaction at the club’s recent lack of progress.

“Of course you want to be part of it,” said Webster when asked if he wanted to continue in the role. “We’ll see what happens.

“We’re a team that’s just not able to compete with other teams, whether it’s through ability or some attitude and some people probably not wanting to fulfil all their commitments. We need to sort that out and we need to make a decision on what we’re going to do.

“We’ve got no money to spend. I’ve tried to offload some people for a long period time, but nobody wants them so we’re not able to change our squad.”

Webster’s mood was made worse by his side’s second-half capitulation against the Centurions.

They led 22-0 thanks to two tries from centre Joe Arundel and others from Chris Riley and Nick Scruton, but their defence cracked in all too familiar style after the break.

“We threw it away,” Webster said. “It just sums up our season. If you put any pressure on Wakefield, they’ll crumble and eventually we did.

“What you find out about people and teams is what happens when you are under pressure and it was typical us, we fall in a heap.

“If you put two or three sets on our line, you’re going to get some points.

“It’s been concerning for 10 to 12 weeks.”