Rochdale Hornets 22 Leigh Centurions 72
LEIGH scored 12 tries - all of them converted by Martyn Ridyard - to demolish Rochdale at Spotland.
Cameron Pitman scored a hat-trick while there were two each for Tom Armstrong and Gregg McNally as the Centurions produced some devastating attacking rugby league to seal another win which keeps them 10 points clear at the top of the Kingstone Press Championship.
It was the perfect response from Leigh after their coach Paul Rowley accused them of letting their standards slip in recent weeks. Ridyard was in superb form while there was great energy from the pack. In attack, Liam Kay was a constant threat while Armstrong and Pitman played with confidence.
Unusually, Centurions hadn’t made a single substitution by half-time so the likes of Jake Emmitt and Sean Penkywicz really did get through a stack of work.
Yet Rochdale, whose relegation from the Championship now seems inevitable, scored twice in the first 10 minutes to lead 12-0. Winger Gareth Langley scored after Liam Kay failed to take a Paul Crook bomb on the last tackle. Crook added the conversion.
The home side scored directly from the restart as some short, quick passing carved Leigh open and Adam Swift was able to finish off from 20 metres. Crook again added the extras.
Both sides were reduced to 12 men following a flare up after a tackle with Matt Sarsfield of Leigh and Rochdale’s Joe Greenwood sent to the sin-bin in the 12th minute.The incident appeared to fire up Leigh who went on to score five tries without reply before half-time.
A short ball got Sam Barlow over from close range before Barlow’s pass unleashed Ridyard who in turn found McNally to finish off. Ridyard goaled both to level the scores at 12-12 after 18 minutes.
Rochdale went close to scoring when Anthony Walker was held up over the line but Leigh were ahead in the 23rd minute. Penkywicz and Ridyard combined to get Kay in at the corner for a try which Ridyard again converted.
On the half-hour, Sarsfield took Ridyard’s long pass to score after Kay, Emmitt and Brierley had all made inroads. Six minutes before the break, Sam Hopkins barged over from 15 metres and with Ridyard finishing the half with five conversions from as many attempts, Leigh led 30-12.
With four substitutes on early in the second half, Leigh were playing at a pace Rochdale couldn’t cope with. A Ridyard kick took a kind bounce for Armstrong to score before Pitman scored his first after supporting a fine break by McNally.
An angled kick from Ridyard found Brierley in spaced to regather and score before Sarsfield’s break and pass to Ridyard ended with McNally scoring his second. Ridyard’s ninth conversion took Leigh past the half century mark with 20 minutes remaining.
Jordan Case’s converted try stemmed the tide briefly but Leigh hit back with two tries in three minutes from Armstrong and Pitman. With two minutes remaining, Anthony Walker scored Rochdale’s fourth try but there was still time for Pitman to complete a 27 minute hat-trick. Ridyard converted all 12 in a masterclass of kicking.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Emmitt, Penkywicz, Hopkins, Sarsfield, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Goulden, Aspinwall, Acton
Tries: Pitman 3, McNally 2, Armstrong 2, Barlow, Kay, Sarsfield, Hopkins, Brierley
Goals: Ridyard 12 (from 12)
Rochdale:Swift, Langley, Llewellyn, King, Robinson, Crook, Sheridan, Thompson, McClurg, Walker, Trumper, Greenwood, Suffolk. Subs: Baines, Cookson, Dandy, Case
Tries: Langley, Swift, Case, Walker
Goals: Crook 3 (from 4)
Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow
Weather: Warm and cloudy