Leigh’s Tongan connection in the spotlight

Jack Hansen of Leigh Centurions
Jack Hansen of Leigh Centurions

Leigh Centurions Reserves 38 Sheffield Eagles Reserves 16

The BBC cameras were on hand to catch the best of the action as the Tongan connection of Jack Hansen and Elliot Liku both played big parts in another fine win for the Reserves under the Leigh East floodlights.

Leigh Centurions reached the end of April with both their first team and reserves team boasting 100 percent records, a feat unequalled elsewhere in the Rugby League this year.

Paul Anderson’s side produced a superb second half performance to run away with this entertaining game after only taking the lead for the first time on the hour-mark. They scored 28 points without reply to recover from trailing 10-16 just after half-time.

Filming for the mini documentary series on the club being shown on BBC North West Tonight throughout the season, presenter Richard Askam interviewed Fuifui Moimoi, Lee and Jack Hansen and Tau and Elliot Liku as he investigated the club’s Tongan links that go back 25 years.

And he saw for himself that the future is in safe hands as Hansen junior continued his fine start to the season with two tries while captain Liku junior again led from the front in the pack.

In a re-run of last year’s thrilling grand final, which the Eagles lost in the dying seconds, the visitors held the lead three times with prop Jack Blagborough blasting his way over from close range, Matteo Zaffino capitalising on a mistake to score an opportunist try and then speedy winger Ryan Millar racing 80 metres for a spectacular try early in the second half.

The Centurions stayed in touch with Hansen cutting over from Joe Prior’s smart pass and Prior then finishing well from Tom Roughley’s fine offload and levelled the scores at 16-16 when Hansen grabbed his second from Lewis Foster’s astute kick.

Powerful prop Tommy Holland scattered the Eagles defence to drive his way over for the game-changing try midway through the second half. And after getting their noses in front the Centurions finished with a flourish.

Sam Baggaley got on the end of an Eze Harper break to score stylishly and put daylight between the teams and Mitchell Cox and Foster added further tries as the Centurions dominated the last quarter to make it three wins from three in the Reserves Championship, Leighton Ratchford finishing with five goals.

Centurions Reserves: Jack Hansen (2 tries); Leighton Ratchford (5 goals), Mitchell Cox (try), Eze Harper, Sam Baggaley (try); Lewis Foster (try), Joe Prior (try); Tommy Holland (try), Brad Smith, Elliot Liku, Sam Peet, Jamie Tracey, Luke Warburton. Subs: Ethan Jukes, Steve Maden, Tom Roughley, Frankie Halton.