Second half fightback is not enough

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Featherstone Rovers 40 Leigh Centurions 26

Leigh Centurions Kingstone Press Championship Grand Final ambitions suffered a set-back as they crashed at League Leaders Featherstone Rovers.

But though they are down, they are not out as their fourth placed finish ensured a second chance which they must take when Batley Bulldogs are their visitors to the LSV this coming Sunday for a 3.00pm kick off.

When seeking lessons to be learned, Leigh will look back on a disappointing opening quarter that enabled Featherstone to take a winning lead on the game and a controversial try from Rovers’ Andy Bostock, just six minutes from time, when Leigh’s stirring second half display had seem them rally to close the gap to eight points as they pressed to close the gap further.

Leigh’s Sean Penkywicz was adjudged by a tough judge, to have knocked on at the base of the scrum as Leigh pressed, and with that alleviating the pressure, the home side shot up field to score. It was a crucial call, especially as Leigh had forced their way back from being 28-4 adrift just after half time

Yet Leigh made their task all the harder by being unable to halt a Rovers side charging down the slope.

A great Tommy Goulden break had been halted by a Liam Finn tackle, but then the same player booted over a sixth minute penalty goal to break the deadlock. Within four minutes they had increased their lead when winger Will Sharp raced in at the corner for an unconverted try.

Centre Greg Worthington then claimed a second home try on 21 minutes with Finn goaling from wide out, before Tommy Saxton completed a compelling Rovers’ move with a third home try.

Featherstone were in full flow, but Leigh blasted back with a quality score as the outstanding Martyn Ridyard and Goulden combined to put full back Gregg McNally through the gap and his pass then sent Ryan Brierley racing over from 30 metres for a try that Ridyard couldn’t goal.

Yet even before the Leigh fans’ cheers had died down, Sharp was in for his second try that Fin couldn’t goal. Finn also missed a penalty on the stroke of half time and Leigh were 22-4 adrift at the hooter.

Within two minutes Leigh were again in dire straits as second row Matty Dale powered over and Finn again goaled. Yet to their credit Leigh dug in and suddenly they had Featherstone reeling as Brierley swooped on a loose pass to claim his second try that Ridyard goaled.

On 53 minutes the Centurion’s momentum started to stun the home fans as Michael Ostick dropped on to Bob Beswick’s perfectly placed kick behind the defensive line for a third Leigh try that Ridyard again goaled. But then Featherstone scored through Saxton and Leigh had it all to do again.

Again Leigh rallied and Penkywicz put Ostick in for his second try for Ridyard to goal. Then Steve Maden was denied a try for a forward pass from the hard running Stuart Littler, before Ridyard put McNally in at the corner for an ungoaled try.

But as Leigh pressed Penkywicz was judged to have knocked on when it looked like the ball went backwards and Featherstone were able to grab Bostock’s match clinching try six minutes from time.

Featherstone Rovers: Hepworth, Sharpe, Hardman, Worthington, Saxton, Kain, Finn, Crossley, Kaye, James, Lockwood, Dale, Bussey. subs all used: Ellis, Bryan, Bostock, Barlow.

Tries: Sharpe (10, 38), Worthington (21), Saxton (26, 59), Dale (42), Bostock (74)

Goals: Finn 6/9

Leigh Centurions: McNally, Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall, Ridyard, Brierley, Ostick, Beswick, Spencer, Thornley, Goulden, Aspinwall. Subs all used: Hopkins, Penkywicz, Briscoe, Bates.

Tries: Brierley (36, 49), Ostick (53, 66), McNally (71)

Goals: Ridyard 3/5

Half time: 22-4

Referee: Matt Thomason

Attendance: 2006