Leigh Centurions 22 Workington Town 12
ON the day Leigh paid tribute to their former players, it was a current star Ryan Brierley who scored twice as Centurions held off a determined Workington side at the Sports Village.
More than a hundred former Leigh players and their families were in the stadium as the club officially launched its Heritage Numbers with children from the town’s sporting clubs and other organisations also playing a part.
Leigh wore a special heritage kit which featured no sponsorship and each player had their own heritage number printed under the town coat of arms.
Sadly, on a day all about remembering, this was a largely forgettable game which became incredibly scrappy in the second half.
Centurions, who won the League Leaders Shield several weeks ago, gave a first senior start to Jonny Walker while there was no Sam Barlow. Tommy Goulden and Tom Spencer were also missing after recent operations.
The reshuffled Leigh team looked a little off the pace early on as Workington - who included Wigan Warriors dual reg quartet Jack Murphy, Greg Burke, Connor Farrell and Jordan James - dominated, forcing three drop outs in quick succession. In fact five minutes had gone before Leigh even had a touch of the ball.
Workington’s inability to make the most of their possession was punished when Sam Hopkins made a powerful break before turning the ball inside for Brierley to finish off under the posts. Martyn Ridyard added the goal.
The visitors were quickly level after some short passing in centre field saw Carl Forber in space and he was able to score a try which he also converted.
Workington continued to complete their sets but their options on the last tackle were not hurting the Leigh defence. Two tries in the 10 minutes before half-time turned the game decisively in Leigh’s favour.
First some neat passing between Kurt Haggerty and Jamie Acton got Adam Higson in at the corner then Liam Kay produced a tidy finish as Centurions worked a move at the scrum. Ridyard converted the latter to give Leigh a 16-6 half-time lead.
A downpour during the break made handling more difficult and both sides struggled to build pressure. We had to wait 16 minutes for the first scoring action of the half - a well-timed Ridyard pass sending his half-back partner Brierley over for his second. Ridyard added the goal.
But Workington, who were desperate for at least a bonus point to keep them in the mix for a play-off spot, continued to impress with Peter Lupton and Brett Phillips catching the eye. With 17 minutes remaining, Jason Mossop won the race for his own kick to the ingoal area and touched down. Forber’s conversion cut Leigh’s lead to just 10.
Despite chances for both sides in a busy final few minutes, there were no further scores ensuring Leigh stretched their lead at the top of the table to 16 points with just one league game remaining.
McNally, Higson, Platt, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Emmitt, Penkywicz, Hopkins, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Wilkes. Subs: Beswick, Walker, Bate, Aspinwall
Tries: Brierley 2, Kay Higson
Goals: Ridyard 3 (from 4 attempts)
Murphy, Patrick, Mossop. Hulme, Carter, Lupton, Forber, Burke, Mattinson, Shackley, Phillips, Farrell, McAvoy. Subs: James, Rooney, Olstrom, Phillips
Tries: Forber, Mossop
Goals: Forber 2 (from 2 attempts)
Referee: Mike Woodhead