Leigh Centurions 60 Swinton Lions 24
LEIGH cemented their place at the top of the Kingstone Press Championship with an 11-try demolition of Swinton at the Sports Village.
Liam Kay scored a hat-trick while Gregg McNally, Tom Armstrong and Kurt Haggerty all got two tries apiece as Centurions picked up their tenth straight win in 2014.
Following Wigan’s success at previously unbeaten St Helens, Leigh now boast the longest winning run in the game.
After a dramatic win at Halifax last Sunday where Leigh came back from 24-0 to eventually win 36-28, this game could have not have been more of a contrast.
At times, Leigh looked able to score at will. Martyn Ridyard and Ryan Brierley at half-back made sure the attacks kept going wide where the likes of Kay, Armstrong and Haggerty caused problems for the Swinton defence throughout.
There was little to choose between the sides early on as they traded converted tries. Leigh’s Gregg McNally followed up a great run by Tommy Goulden to race clear for a try in the seventh minute and Ridyard added the extras.
But the Lions replied with a sensational try started by former Leigh forward Mike Morrison. He broke away and kicked ahead, giving Kevin Penny the chance to show his pace which he did - sprinting clear to win the race for the ball and score. Ian Watson’s conversion made it 6-6.
The try only served to spark Leigh into life and they scored four tries in a game-breaking 16 minute spell. A move at the scrum got McNally over for a quickfire double before Haggerty’s pass got Armstrong in. Ridyard goaled both with his second effort from touch going over after hitting the inside of the far post.
A Ridyard kick was spilled by Swinton winger Freddie Walker and from the resultant scrum, Sam Hopkins - on loan from Wigan - was able to charge in for a try from 10 metres.
Moments later, Leigh were in again. Brierley and Ridyard spun the ball out wide and Haggerty finished well from close range. Ridyard’s fifth goal gave Leigh a 30-6 lead.
The lightning speed of Penny proved Leigh’s undoing for Swinton’s second try six minutes before half-time. He reacted quickest when his fellow Warrington dual registration team-mate Gene Ormsby broke away and kicked ahead. The ball sat up for Penny to collect and complete a superb attack.
There was still time for Leigh to add a sixth try before the break. Quick hands to the left got Kay in again and although Ridyard couldn’t add the goal, Leigh’s handsome 34-12 half-time lead looked to be insurmountable.
After the restart, Leigh continued to raid the outside channels and Armstrong went in for his second try as the ball was kept alive on the fifth tackle. On the hour, Centurions scored their best try of the game. Brierley made the break from just inside his own half only for Penny to track back and haul him down. But just as Brierley was going to ground he was able to unload to the supporting Kay who nipped in for his second try.
Australian centre Cameron Pitman scored his first ever senior Leigh try in the 65th minute after a McNally break before Kay sealed a superb hat-trick with a 70 metre sprint to the line where he again just had the edge on the chasing Penny. Ridyard’s goal extended Leigh’s lead to 54-12.
Swinton second rower Darren Hawkyard went over for a consolation effort with seven minutes remaining before a flare-up in backplay ended with two players sent off. Zach Johnson of the Lions and Leigh’s Adam Higson both saw red following the incident which erupted into a full-scale brawl.
With order restored and both sides down to 12 for the final few minutes, Haggerty scored his second try - converted by Ridyard - before Swinton full-back Ritchie Hawkyard touched down in the last minute. Watson’s goal was his fourth from as many attempts against his former club.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Acton, Penkywicz, Emmitt, Haggerty, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Spencer, Wilkes, Hopkins
Tries: Kay 3, McNally 2, Armstrong 2, Haggerty 2,Hopkins, Pitman
Goals: Ridyard 8 (from 11 attempts)
Swinton: R Hawkyard, Penny, Ormsby, Halliwell, Walker, Bowman, Watson, Morrison, Ackers, Menzies, Brown, D Hawkyard, I Hulme, Subs: L Hulme, Thomas, Johnson, Watkins
Tries: Penny 2, D Hawkyard, R Hawkyard
Goals: Watson 4 (from 4 attempts)
Weather: Dry and sunny
Referee: Adam Gill