Leigh Centurions 26 Featherstone Rovers 16
RYAN Brierley scored a hat-trick of tries as Leigh stormed into the quarter finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup with an outstanding win over Featherstone at the Sports Village.
In a pulsating game which showcased two of the best Championship sides, Leigh fought back after being outscored three tries to one in the opening stages - Featherstone’s inability to add any goals proving their downfall.
It was 12-12 at half-time but Leigh produced a stirring display after the restart, scoring three tries to end Featherstone’s resistance.
Brierley scored twice in the first half and his third eight minutes from time was the gamebreaker - extending Leigh’s lead to more than two converted tries.
There wasn’t even a minute on the clock when Leigh opened the scoring in spectacular style. After receiving the kick-off, Centurions worked the ball left and Liam Kay sprinted 50 metres before his pass inside found Brierley who finished off under the posts. Martyn Ridyard added the conversion.
However Leigh were floored by three tries in 14 minutes from Featherstone. Winger Will Sharp did well to collect a kick to the corner and score before former Warrington man James Mendeika touched down in the same corner after quick passing to the right. Gareth Moore was unable to add either conversion.
In the 22nd minute, Sharp scored his second try after a knock on caught everyone flat footed and quick passing to the right undid the Centurions defence. Again, Moore was off target with the extras so the Featherstone lead was only 12-6 rather than 18-6.
Leigh were level in the 27th minute when Kay was first to react to a loose ball. He cut infield on a mazy 50 metre run and was supported by Gregg McNally who in turn found Brierley on his shoulder to finish off from 20 metres. Ridyard’s goal leveled things at 12-12. Leigh continued to press as half-time approached but the closest they came to scoring was when Cameron Pitman was held up on his back over the line.
Featherstone dominated the early exchanges of the second half but they were unable to score and also missed a penalty attempt.
Having weathered the early storm, Leigh started to enjoy some quality possession and almost scored through Kurt Haggerty but he was penalised for a double movement.
Centurions continued to press and went ahead in the 56th minute. A Ridyard kick to the corner was grounded by Kay though Ridyard missed the conversion so the lead was just four.
But Haggerty powered in from close range with 16 minutes remaining to open up an eight point gap and Leigh effectively killed the game off when Brierley showed electric pace to race in for his hat-trick try. Brierley kicked the conversion.
With time almost up, Mendeika scored a second try for the visitors which Kyle Briggs was unable to goal.
The draw for the quarter finals takes place on Monday at 6.30pm on the BBC News channel.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Wilkes, Penkywicz, Duffy, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Hopkins, Haggerty, Spencer
Tries: Brierley 3, Kay, Haggerty
Goals: Ridyard 2 (from 3 attempts); Brierley 1 (from 2 attempts)
Featherstone: Hardman, Uaisele, Worthington, Mendeika, Sharp, Kain, Moore, James, Ellis, Hirst, Cording, Spears, Lockwood. Subs: Flanagan, Dale, Bostock, Briggs
Tries: Sharp 2, Mendeika 2
Goals: Moore 0 (from 4 attempts), Briggs 0 (from 1 attempt)
Referee: Ben Thaler
Pitch: Very Good
Weather: Dry and bright