Leigh Centurions 86 Keighley Cougars 0
TWO players scored hat-tricks as Leigh scored more than a point a minute to thrash Keighley Cougars at the Sports Village.
Jonathan Pownall and Liam Kay both got three tries each to help Centurions to their third pre-season friendly win in as many weeks.
“I was pleased with the nil,” said Leigh coach Paul Rowley, possibly with his tongue in cheek. “The skill level of these players is phenomenal and we proved that time and time again against Keighley.
“The players got lots of opportunities and scored some great tries. As the game went on I was hoping Keighley would put us under some pressure to challenge the defensive side of our game but you can only play what’s in front of you.
“At times it was like a training run but we were up against a team which pushed us hard twice last season. They are favourites for Championship One and were only relegated last season.”
For the first time this year, Leigh were able to field their strongest team. Last year’s Championship Player of the Year Martyn Ridyard made his long awaited return along with second rower Kurt Haggerty.
Ridyard wasted no time in renewing his half-back partnership with Ryan Brierley and their influence was evident from the start. Their craft and speed through the middle enabled the likes of Kay and Pownall to show their pace while Sam Barlow and Haggerty showed the pack is not short on creativity either.
Centurions blitzed Keighley with four tries inside the first quarter. With five minutes played, Brierley and Gregg McNally linked to get Adam Higson over in the corner.
A Kay break was followed up by Tom Armstrong for a second Leigh try in the 13th minute and this time Ridyard added the conversion.
Moments later, Pownall’s kick ahead was well judged by the chasing Tommy Goulden who pounced to score a try which Ridyard again converted.
Then provider Pownall turned scorer - with two tries in seven minutes - both the result of quick passing to the edges with Ridyard and Brierley dictating play.
His fellow winger Kay then scored twice in quick succession as the Championship One side were found wanting all over the park. Kay got his first on the half hour then struck again two minutes later as he followed up a kick through by Haggerty. With Ridyard converting both, Leigh were clocking more than a point a minute.
Centurions scored their eighth try late in the first half as Goulden went over for his second on the back of a 50 metre break by Brierley.
The second half was just as one-sided. Ben Reynolds and Gregg McNally scored soon after the restart before Kay and Higson linked well to allow Haggerty the chance to score. Ridyard’s eighth conversion made it 60-0.
Some fisticuffs just before the hour mark spiked the Leigh onslaught but Pownall and Jonathan Walker scored tries within two minutes of each other to get the scoreboard ticking again.
Two more tries from Brierley sandwiched the game’s best moment - a captivating 90 metre weaving sprint to the line by Kay which must rank as one of the finest ever scored at the Sports Village.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Acton, Penkywicz, Wilkes, Haggerty, Goulden, Barlow.
Subs: Moimoi, Walker, Beswick, Reynolds, Pownall, Dixon, Emmitt, Hopkins
Keighley: Sheriffe, White, Lawton, Graham, Gabriel, Jones, Kelly, Peltier, Feather, Cherryholme, Pursglove, Lynam, Bailey. Subs: Law, Lindsay, D March, Patchett, Watson, P March, Courtney
Referee: Warren Turley
Pitch: Very good
Weather: Sunny but cold