Swinton Lions 6 Leigh Centurions 48

Gareth Hock. Photo: Paul McCarthy
Gareth Hock. Photo: Paul McCarthy
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Leigh scored eight tries as they hammered Swinton 48-6 at Sale’s Hewywood Road.

But the game was marred by a mass brawl early in the second half which saw red cards for Swinton pair Josh Barlow and Zach Johnson and Leigh’s Gareth Hock. There were also yellow cards for Adam Higson of Leigh and Swinton’s Mike Butt. The red card for Barlow, brother of Leigh forward Sam, could prove especially costly as he wasn’t even on the pitch at the time - he was on the bench but got involved as the brawl spilled onto the benches.

There was further controversy in the closing stages as Leigh’s Jake Emmitt and Dan Flemming of Swinton got yellow cards.

It made for a stormy second half which never recovered from all those cards and as a spectacle it stuttered to a finish.

Leigh had Willie Tonga making a rare start in the centres and new signing Josh Drinkwater was on the bench and the pair had mixed fortunes. Tonga lasted 37 minutes before going off injured but Drinkwater scored late on.

Tom Armstrong opened the scoring with a well worked try after eight minutes. Ben Reynolds and Lee Smith unlocked the Swinton defence with some well-timed passes and Armstrong finished off.

But Swinton took the lead six minutes later. Former Leigh hooker Anthony Nicholson barged in from close range after Swinton did well to keep the ball alive on the last tackle. Chris Atkin’s conversion made it 8-6 to the home side.

Their lead lasted 10 minutes before Leigh produced a blast of four tries before half-time. Quick hands to the left got Smith over and Martyn Ridyard’s conversion went over off the upright.

A loose pass to the left bounce up for Jonny Pownall and he was able to squeeze over from close range though Ridyard failed to goal.

Richard Whiting hit a short ball from close range to score Leigh’s fourth try four minutes before half-time then Smith grabbed a second on the stroke of half-time. Two conversions from Ridyard gave Leigh a 26-6 interval lead.

The brawl early in the second half set the tone for a disjointed finish but Leigh held their nerve to add further tries at regular intervals.

Ridyard went over in the 57th minute after good work by Reynolds and Higham then Weston powered over from close range.

Reynolds scored a solo effort with 13 minutes remaining and Drinkwater completed the scoring in the dying minutes. Inbetween Flemming and Emmitt were sinbinned.

Leigh: Smith, Higson, Armstrong, Tonga, Pownall, Ridtard, Reynolds, Emmitt, Higham, Weston, Whiting, Maitua, Hock. Subs: Drinkwater, Fash, Hopkins, Acton

Swinton: Hyde, Robinson, Littler, Lloyd, Butt, White, Atkin, Austin, Nicholson, Bracek, Thornley, Dwyer, Barlow. Subs: Fleming, Beharrell, Nash, Johnson

Referee: Andy Sweet

Weather: Showery

Pitch: Good