RELEGATED Bradford and London Broncos enjoyed contrasting fortunes in the opening round of the Kingstone Press Championship.
The Bulls let slip a 20-6 lead to go down 36-24 to reigning champions Leigh in front of a 7,449 crowd at Leigh Sports Village while the Broncos withstood a second-half fightback to beat Doncaster 26-22 at The Hive.
It was Leigh’s biggest crowd since 7,548 watched the visit of Wigan in Super League in 2005 and they witnessed a full-blooded encounter featuring an all-in brawl and six yellow cards.
It was 11-a-side for a time as the Centurions had Jamie Acton, Gregg McNally and Kurt Haggerty sin-binned while Danny Williams was yellow carded for Bradford and his team-mate Harry Siejka was sin-binned twice.
McNally scored two second-half tries and others came from Ryan Brierley, Liam Kay, Tom Armstrong and Sean Penkywicz, with Martyn Ridyard kicking six goals.
Hooker Adam O’Brien scored Bradford’s first and last tries and others came from skipper Chev Walker and debutants Etu Uaisele and Jake Mullaney, with Siejka kicking two goals.
The Broncos looked to be coasting to an opening-round victory when two tries from Welsh international Rhys Williams and others from Ray Nasso, Daniel Harrison, and Wes Naiqama put them into a 26-0 lead early in the second half.
However, Doncaster, boosted by the availability of Jordan Rankin, Stuart Howarth and Iafeta Paleaaesina playing on dual registration from Hull, struck back with four tries in the last 27 minutes to set up a grandstand finish.
Sam Doherty scored two tries and Paleaaesina and Lee Waterman also touched down, with Stewart Sanderson kicking three goals for the visitors.
Halifax ran in nine tries in a 44-16 victory at Whitehaven, who are without a coach following the resignation of Steve Deakin.
Steve Tyrer scored the game’s first try and kicked four goals while James Saltonstall and Alex Brown both scored two tries on their Halifax debut. Adam Robinson also touched down twice and Miles Greenwood and Luke Ambler got the other tries.
Paul Johnson and Grant Gore, playing on loan from Widnes, scored tries for Whitehaven along with Jordan Burns, with caretaker coach Brett Seymour kicking two goals.
Shaun Squires scored a first-half hat-trick of tries and added a fourth after the break to help Batley to a 30-6 win over Workington.
Liam Bretherton scored the Bulldogs’ other try and Scott Leatherbarrow kicked five goals.
Workington, who had England prop Lee Mossop playing on loan from Wigan, scored their only try through Brett Phillips, which was converted by Carl Forber.
In Friday’s game, Dewsbury Rams came from 10-0 down to defeat Sheffield Eagles 19-10.