Leigh Centurions 34 Doncaster 8
A hat-trick of tries from Simon Finnigan sparked Leigh Centurions to a third straight success in the Kingstone Press Championship.
It’s tough at the top and Leigh find themselves in sixth spot despite having only lost one game. Never the less this victory was enough to see them leapfrog over Doncaster in a Championship race that is already proving to be tougher than ever.
That was a fact evidenced throughout this game too as Leigh had to grind out a victory through rock solid defence and sparkling enterprise when creating the opportunity to score. Yet Finnigan was not the only player to impress as debutant Jon O’Donnell went well in the centre and Greg McNally was outstanding at the back and when linking into attack. There was also a nice contribution from Ryan Duffy. In the pack Sam Hopkins gets better each week and Rob Parker led by example being unlucky to have a try ruled out late on.
Never the less Leigh were given an early wake-up call when winger Stewart Sanderson capitalised on an error as Bob Beswick spilled a kick from young Bobbie Goulding, and that position enabled Liam Kay to put him in at the corner.
The enigmatic talent of Paul Cook kept the visitors on attack and Leigh had to survive a couple of goal-line drop outs, before showing their cutting edge when dashing down field to grab their first try and take the lead. Martyn Ridyard provided the final pass to put in Finnigan for his first try and then edged Leigh in front with the conversion.
Yet it was Doncaster who were denied what looked a try within minutes as Sanderson was pulled back for a forward pass. However with McNally linking superbly Leigh increased their lead on 26 minutes when blasting through the Doncaster defence before sending Finnigan in for his second goaled try.
Steve Maden was unlucky to have a score denied by the referee , before a series of penalties enabled the visitors downfield and when pressed it was Dan Cowling going in for a second Doncaster try after more good work from Goulding who then saw his conversion attempt hit the post and rebound out.
Almost on the half time hooter Leigh were awarded a penalty and Ridyard coolly slotted over the goal for a 14-8 interval lead.
Leigh opened strongly in the second half and within five minutes Finnigan had his hat trick as he backed up Ridyard to cross for a converted score. It was good stuff from Leigh with Sean Penkywicz adding to the team’s creative repertoire as the pack started to get on top. Brierley showed he has lost none of his attacking prowess has he gathered McNally’s cleverly weighted kick for a try that effectively put the game beyond doubt.
O’Donnell then showed good skills to send Jon Pownall in for a fifth Leigh try before
Parker was denied for a forward pass. Penkywicz then claimed Leigh’s sixth and final try and Brierley added the extras to give Leigh a commanding success.
LEIGH CENTURIONS: McNally, Maden, Littler, O’Donnell, Pownall, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Parker, Finnigan, Goulden, Aspinwiall. Subs all used: Penkywicz, Briscoe, Hopkins, Duffy.
Tries: Finnigan (10, 26, 45), Brierley (50) Pownall (61), Penkywicz (72),
Goal: Ridyard 4/4 Brierley 1/3
DONCASTER: Clare, Tuffour, Cowling, Kay, Sanderson, Goulding, Fawcett, Wallker, Kesik, Carbutt, Trout, Robinson, Cooke. Subs all used: Broughton, Emmett, Castle, Edwards.
Tries: Sanderson (2), Cowling (31),
Goals: Goulding 0/2
Half time 14-8
Referee George Stokes