Toulouse Olympique 14 Leigh Centurions 36

John Duffy
John Duffy

LEIGH put the torch to the victory hopes of Toulouse Olympique with a display that made light of the red-hot conditions to firmly show that the Centurions are back on track.

Coach Ian Millward wanted to use this trip to France not just as an exercise to maintain top spot in the Co-operative Championship, but also to help further bond the players together ahead of a demanding finish to the League campaign that includes that vital Northern Rail Cup Final and the recent off-field bad news.

He was rewarded on both counts with a clinical display that saw his side run in six tries to maintain their lead at the top of the table and a good bonding session that was aided by the return from injury of the talismanic half back, Robbie Paul.

Plus there were another 16 points from Mick Nanyn to see him overtake Wigan legend Andy Farrell in the all-time scoring stakes to move into ninth position.

Robbie had not played since February, but his infectious enthusiasm sparked the Leigh side when he joined them from the bench just past the quarter mark and he even weighed in with a well taken try in celebration. With Tommy Goulden leading the Leigh pack and Chris Hill, Stuart Littler and John Duffy particularly lively, Leigh overcame an early scare when winger Antonie Reveillon should have scored only to spill the ball.

The Centurions then applied the pressure and in the ninth minute a dart from Martyn Ridyard saw him start a move that he finished courtesy of good interplay between Nanyn and Dean McGilvray to race in for a try that Nanyn goaled.

Leigh missed chances through Littler and Goulden, and the Leigh fans must have wondered if they would pay dearly when Toulouse scored off a set move that had Sylvain Houles crashing in for a try that Darren Nichols goaled to level on 23 minutes.

Then Robbie arrived and despite the French side again losing possession when Reveillon had broken clear, it was Leigh hitting the home side with quick fire tries as McGilvray finished off a fine Jamie Ellis pass with a try in the corner and then Hunter-Paul was similarly assisted by the Leigh half back for a welcome try on his return. Nanyn goaled both and Leigh had an 18-6 lead they took to the break.

Ellis went in for his customary try on 49 minutes but the French rallied and with second row Yoan Tisseyre and winger Greg White responding with quick tries Leigh’s lead was cut to 10 points as the heat beat down.

But Leigh dug deep and as the French tried hard to break the visitors’ defence, Stuart Donlan and James Taylor again proved their worth with telling tackles, before Nanyn burst through to reassert the Centurions command with a fifth try, and then Taylor completed the victory with the final try in the last minute.

Nanyn’s six from six was a perfect return as Leigh maintained their lead at the top of the table despite their three point deduction.