North Wales Crusaders 16 Leigh Centurions 28
LEIGH will face Doncaster - the only side to have beaten them in the league all season - in the first round of the play-offs next Sunday at the Sports Village.
As Paul Rowley’s side were wrapping up a routine win in Wrexham over the already relegated Crusaders, the rest of the Championship was sorting itself out with play-off and relegation places decided.
Leigh forward Ryan Duffy - who is on loan at Crusaders - scored two tries against his parent club in the final league game of the year.
With the play-offs round the corner, Leigh left out Gregg McNally at full-back and winger Liam Kay, with Jonny Pownall and Steve Maden their replacements. It was Maden’s first game of the season and he got stuck in with typical tenacity.
Despite being relegated some weeks ago, North Wales Crusaders were desperate to put on a show in their final game of a disappointing season. They started brightly and scored after nine minutes when Jamie Dallimore kicked through and regathered the ball before his inside pass sent Tommy Johnson under the posts. Johnson also added the conversion.
Leigh continually struggled to build pressure mainly due to handling errors and Crusaders were completing their sets well with a varied kicking game causing problems.
But after soaking up so much, Centurions at last started to create some chances with ball in hand. On the half hour mark, Jonny Walker took a short ball from Martyn Ridyard at pace to score under the posts. Martyn Ridyard added the conversion. The try took Leigh to the 1,000 point mark for the season.
Straight from the restart, Leigh attacked from deep, Maden made a break, carried on by Matt Sarsfield and Tom Armstrong scored in the corner. Ridyard was unable to convert from touch.
Centurions stretched their lead 13 minutes into the second half as Ridyard’s well-timed pass sent Sam Hopkins through. Ridyard added the goal.
Brierley scored the game’s best try in the 62nd minute, scorching 40 metres on a mazy run to score after being put clear by Hopkins’ pass. Ridyard kicked the extras.
Duffy - who played for Leigh in the U20s Grand Final win over Sheffield on Friday - scored his first try 15 minutes from time, goaled by Johnson before Brierley produced another outstanding finish to sprint in from 30 metres. Ridyard’s conversion made it 28-12.
Duffy claimed his second try - which was cheered by both sets of fans - with five minutes remaining, Johnson unable to convert.
Leigh: Pownall, Higson, Platt, Armstrong, Maden, Ridyard, Brierley, Emmitt, Beswick, Hopkins, Wilkes, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Penkywicz, Sarsfield, Walker, Acton
Tries: Brierley 2, Walker, Armstrong, Hopkins
Goals: Ridyard 4/5
NWales: Johnson, Massam, Roets, Reardon, Turner, Speakman, Dallimore, Walker, Ashall, Adamson, Gee, Wild, Middlehurst. Subs Hudson, Duffy, Martins, Smith.
Tries: Duffy 2, Johnson
Goals: Johnson 2/3
Referee: Jamie Bloem
Weather: Dry with sunny spells