London Skolars 26 Leigh Centurions 43
Leigh Centurions cruised through to the fourth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup with a hat tick of tries from centre Stuart Littler giving the London club a lesson in finishing.
Leigh never looked in danger of becoming a giant killing statistic, but the Skolars never gave in and ensured that the visitors couldn’t relax for a minute claiming five tries of their own and indicating why they are doing so well in Championship One this season.
Never-the-less it was Leigh who always had the upper hand and the power and pace to capitalise on the opportunities that came their way, with Littler in sparkling form to claim his hat trick and set Leigh on their way to victory whilst the guile of John Duffy was always a threat to the home side.
Leigh arrived as red hot favourites, but the Skolars indicated that they would not have it all their own way when Neil Thorman made the break that ended with the marvellously named Smokie Junor going in for a sixth minute try that half back Dylan Skee was unable to goal.
The response from Leigh was three tries in a blistering six minute spell that stamped their authority on the game, albeit continually questioned by the much improved home side.
After four sets of continued pressure on the Skolars line, Leigh finally grabbed their first score when Jonathan Pownall finished an impressive passing move with a try wide out that Martyn Ridyard failed to goal. But with three minutes it was Littler forcing his way through three defenders from a quickly taken tap penalty to which Ridyard did add the goal points, before the stand off was on the mark again when Steve Maden snapped up a spilled Skolars pass and raced away for Leigh’s third touchdown.
Matty Gardner claimed the next Leigh try after a great run from Tommy Gallagher and Duffy had a good looking effort ruled out for the use of the elbow. Brad Hopkins pulled back a try for the Skolars before Littler charged in for his second score but the Skolars responded by showing they were far from throwing in the towel when their lively substitute Olly Purslow shot in for a try to which Skee added the extras to cut Leigh’s interval lead to 26-14.
Leigh knew they needed to score first after the break to quell any Skolars comeback hopes and when Duffy put in an astute angled kick it was London born Mike Worrincy on the end of it for the Centurions to ensure they grabbed the try and maintained control.
On 47 minutes Craig Briscoe put in a sterling effort to send Greg McNally racing home and that should have been that.
But to their credit the Skolars kept pushing and after Skee’s 40/20, winger Ade Adebisi shot in for a try that Skee goaled to keep the tie alive.
Leigh kept control with Ricky Bibey and Rob Parker going well, as Briscoe and Worrincy threatened before a Ridyard 40/20 set up the position for Littler to power in for his third and Leigh’s eight try.With Bob Beswick adding a field goal four minutes from time, Leigh were cruising, but Skee claimed a deserved final try for the Skolars on the hooter to give them some consolation whilst Leigh awaited their fourth round opponents.
Tries: Junor (6), Hopkins (38), Purslow (39), Adebisi (54), Skee (80)
Goals: Skee 3/5
Leigh Centurions: McNally; Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall; Ridyard, Duffy; Bibey, Nicholson, Parker, Briscoe, Worrincy, Taylor; (subs all used) Beswick, Hopkins, Ostick, Gallagher.
Tries: Pownall (15), Littler ( 18, 40, 70 ), Maden (21), Gardner (30), Worrincy (44 McNally (47)
Goals: Ridyard 5/8
Drop Goal: Beswick (76)
Referee: Matthew Kid