Centurions stun Salford in Cup upset

Tommy Goulden
Tommy Goulden

LEIGH produced a thrilling performance to dump Super League side Salford out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

The unbeaten Championship leaders had to come from behind twice to seal a famous win and extend their winning run to a staggering 21 matches,

The Centurions twice came from behind in thrilling fashion to beat the Red Devils 22-18 in front of a 6,358 crowd at Leigh Sports Village and stretch their winning run to 21 matches.

Despite missing Fuifui Moimoi and Sean Penkywicz, Leigh finished strongly and the supposed gulf between Super League and Championship was not evident.

Hooker Bob Beswick was involved in everything for Leigh while Ryan Brierley was outstanding against the club he supports.

Rather surprisingly for a Super League side, Salford looked like they were out to knock Leigh off their game right from the start when Cory Paterson was placed on report for a late challenge on Gregg McNally.

Theo Fages opened the scoring after seven minutes when he dummied his way over for the first try and his half-back partner Michael Dobson kicked the conversion before hurting his knee in a collision four minutes later.

Dobson attempted to play on but eventually succumbed to his injury and the Red Devils also lost centre Junior Sa’u with a wrist injury before half-time.

With Paterson also limping, the visitors were rocked by the flair and determination of their Championship opponents, who scored two tries in four minutes to go 12-6 ahead.

Beswick was the provider each time, a short pass getting Tommy Goulden over from close range while McNally finished off his break from halfway, and Martyn Ridyard kicked both conversions.

Salford turned the tables with two tries either side of the break from Niall Evalds to retake the lead.

They drew level on 34 minutes when Fages broke clear to get the full-back over for his first try and got his over again three minutes into the second half courtesy of a neat reverse pass.

Paterson kicked both goals to make it 18-12 and Leigh missed a glorious chance to level matters when centre Tom Armstrong got winger Liam Kay haring for the corner only for him to lose the ball in Fages’ last-ditch tackle.

Just when Salford seemed to be in control, the game took a new twist as Leigh stormed back in front.

They were thrown a lifeline on 63 minutes when Salford winger Ben Jones-Bishop’s careless pass was snapped up by Leigh half-back Ryan Brierley for a gift of a try.

Ridyard’s third goal tied the scores and the Centurions regained the lead three minutes later McNally fashioned a try for winger Johnathan Pownall.

There was no shortage of action right to the end but Leigh hung on.