Sheffield Eagles 12 Leigh Centurions 54
LEIGH Centurions set a new club record for consecutive wins - 15 - by hammering Champions Sheffield Eagles 54-12 at the Owlerton Stadium.
Liam Kay scored four tries while Martyn Ridyard kicked eight goals in an unexpectedly one-sided affair which Paul Rowley’s side controlled from the start.
With the pack in sensational form, steered from hooker by Bob Beswick and then Sean Penkywicz, this was one of Leigh’s best away displays of recent memory. Their completion rate in the first half was in the 80s and they starved Sheffield of possession for long periods. They were simply relentless.
Last week, Centurions beat Doncaster to equal the club record of 14 successive wins which was originally set in 1982 then matched in 1986.
But now the class of 2014 has written itself into the history books after a dominant display which underlined Leigh’s title credentials.
The win keeps Centurions seven points clear of the chasing pack with a points difference which is far superior to any of their rivals.
Leigh made the best possible start with two tries in the first seven minutes. Kay went in at the corner after good link work between half-backs Martyn Ridyard and Ryan Brierley before Bob Beswick nipped over from dummy half. Martyn Ridyard converted both and Centurions led 12-0.
They were pegged back in the 12th minute when Sheffield scored on virtually their first attack. Dominic Brambani’s well-timed pass found Lelauloto Tagaloa in space and the centre touched down. Brambani also added the goal.
Play was then held up for 15 minutes as paramedics were called to a Leigh supporter - Stephen O’Dwyer - who needed medical attention from the Sheffield club doctor. He was taken to hospital and last night his condition was described as stable.
When the game resumed, Centurions didn’t take long to fire up again. A long ball from Gregg McNally got Kay in for his second after 20 minutes. Leigh continued to press and five minutes later, Ridyard’s short kick was pounced on by McNally for a converted try.
Two Ridyard penalties kept the scoreboard ticking and Centurions looked on their way to victory at half-time, leading as they did 26-6.
Any Sheffield hopes of a comeback were quickly extinguished when Brierley swooped on a loose pass from Laulu Togagae and raced 30 metres to score a try which Ridyard converted.
Leigh continued to turn the screw. A move at the scrum saw Ridyard feed Kay for his hat-trick, Ridyard’s conversion increasing his side’s lead to 38-6. Penkywicz’s short ball got Tommy Goulden over in the 63rd minute following Ridyard’s 40-20 kick which put Leigh on the front foot. Ridyard’s conversion was his eighth from nine attempts.
Soon after Penkywicz was involved again, this time sending a short ball from dummy half to Kay who produced a stylish finish to outfox the defence. With Ridyard off the field, Brierley took over the goal-kicking and landed a cracker from touch to bring up the half century.
Penkywicz completed a busy spell by scoring himself five minutes from time after taking a quick tap penalty and leaving the Sheffield defence flat-footed. Brierley was unable to add the extras.
With time almost up, Sheffield scored a consolation effort through Misi Taulapapa but it couldn’t take the shine off an outstanding Leigh display.
Leigh: McNally, Pownall, Pitman, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Barlow, Haggerty, Goulden, Bate. Subs: Penkywicz, Acton, Emmitt, Wilkes
Tries: Kay 4, Penkywicz, Goulden, Brierley, Beswick, McNally
Goals: Ridyard 8 (from 9 attempts), Brierley 1 (from 2 attempts)
Sheffield: Laulu Togagae, Turner, Yere, Tagaloa, Taulapapa, Walker, Brambani, Lillycrop, Henderson, Stringer, Garside, Straughier, Knowles. Subs: Davey, Aspinall, Hope, Battye
Tries: Tagaloa, Taulapapa
Goals: Brambani 1 (from 1 attempt), Walker 1 (from 1 attempt)
Referee: Matt Thomason