Leigh crush Thunder

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Gateshead Thunder 0 Leigh Centurions 42

Leigh Centurions cruised through to the knock-out stages of the Northern Rail Cup with a comprehensive success over Gateshead Thunder.

The game was played at the home of Rugby Union Premiership side, Newcastle Falcons and Leigh revelled in the opportunity to show their skills to give the rest of competition fair warning that they intend holding on to the Trophy they won so dramatically last July.

The Centurions had arrived, mindful of the Thunder’s gritty showing in recent weeks and determined to get the victory they needed to secure progress. Their clinical first half showing laid the platform and they never let the home side get a foothold in the game despite a gallant attempt to peg back their visitors from the home side.

There were a number of changes in the Leigh side, with coach Paul Rowley mindful of the Championship start and the tough game against Batley on Thursday night, but debutants Matty Russell at full back and new dual register player, Ryan Shaw, both showed up well along with the returning Tom Spencer.

With John Duffy and Martyn Ridyard going well at half back and Anthony Nicholson again lively, this was a good all round team performance from the Leigh side.

Leigh showed they were in the right mood for success when they scored with their first possession. Thunder’s Olly O’Mara knocked on, and from the scrum the Centurions worked the ball right for Russell to link and sidestep through for a cracking try.

Leigh were pressing and Stuart Littler and Matt Gardner were being denied by some strong Thunder defence before Russell claimed his second try. This time he charged in on the left and although there was a bit of hesitation from referee Tom Crashley, the try was given after confirmation from a touch judge.

Leigh were going well and when Shaw stepped through a tackle inside his own half he outpaced the defence on an impressive 70 metre sprint to the line. With half time approaching Tommy Gallagher then charged clear and with Ridyard having added three conversions Leigh had a hard earned but fully deserved 22-0 interval lead.

Any thoughts Gateshead may have had of a comeback were soon dispelled when Leigh claimed their fifth try within five minutes of the restart as Taylor found a gap in front of Thunder’s line and crashed over despite a number of defenders around him.

Thunder did threaten but Leigh’s defence was superb, as both Josh Neilson and Will Bate were tackled on their backs over the try line, but unable to ground the ball.

Russell sparked Leigh’s response on 51 minutes when sending in Gardner who juggled the ball before collecting it before touching down. Within three minutes the hard running Spencer had added to Leigh’s tally before Adam Clay completed Leigh’s eight try haul with a superb solo effort.

It was good all round showing for Leigh as they can now focus on the opening round of the Cooperative Championship at the LSV this Thursday night.

Leigh Centurions: Russell; Clay, Littler, Gardner, Shaw; Ridyard, Duffy; Bibey, Nicholson, Spencer, Briscoe, Worrincy, Taylor; subs (all used) Beswick, Maden, Ostick, Gallagher

Tries: Russell (1, 20), Shaw (27), Gallagher (38), Taylor (45), Gardner (51), Spencer (54), Clay (68)

Goals: Ridyard 5/8

Half time: 0-22

Referee Tom Crashley

Attendance 276