Leigh stop Hornets’ sting

Craig Briscoe scores despite the attentions of the opposition
Craig Briscoe scores despite the attentions of the opposition

Leigh Centurions 68 Rochdale Hornets 18

LEIGH Centurions charged through to the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup with a 12 try thumping of Rochdale Hornets that included a four try salvo from Ryan Brierley.

The local lad who is on loan from Castleford Tigers played a key role in the undoing of Leigh’s Championship One opponents, but with Stuart Littler in magnificent form in the centre and Michael Ostlick, Sam Hopkins, Rob Parker and James Taylor outstanding in a rampant pack, this was a terrific team victory for Paul Rowley’s charges.

The Hornets were with without a couple of key players but even so they just could not live with Leigh’s direct drive and clinical finishing, as wave after wave of Centurion advances pushed them back towards their own try line especially in a second half that saw the home side blast in for 42 points.

Yet there were times in the first period where Rochdale showed some of the form that had given them such a good start in Championship One. With Chris Hough always seeking an opening and Steve McDermott lively off the bench they made Leigh work hard for every first half point.

Leigh started well with a Martyn Ridyard 40-20 setting up the position from which the ball was worked to Craig Briscoe on a set move for a try to which Ridyard added the first of his 10 goals.

It was Ridyard next scampering in for a second home try and conversion before Greg McNally saved a score with a great ball stealing tackle on Hornet’s Mark Hobson.

Osltick put in a typical midfield burst and Ridyard supported before sending his half back partner Brierley in for the first of his four tries. The Hornets showed they could play rugby too when a marvellous cross field move ended with Stephen Bannister finishing off with a Chris Baines conversion as former Leigh man Tony Stewart and Wayne English threatened.

Brierley and the impressive Steve Maden set up arty for Littler in response and then Maden claimed the fifth Leigh try when crashing in from acting-half back. But Rochdale showed they were not to be dismissed when substitute Stephen Lucas took McDermott’s pass to go under the posts for a Baines goaled try and a 26-12 interval scoreline with the only blemish being Littler on report for an incident in the 35th minute.

If Rochdale thought they could get back in the game, those thoughts were soon dismissed as Leigh cut loose at the start of the second half. Johnny Leather was put on report for a spear tackle and Leigh capitalised on the position and possession.

Hopkins powered over from the next play, Brierley then collected his second some three minutes later after a Hopkins burst and Littler claimed his second in a devastating three try burst, that were all goaled by Ridyard.

O’Connor pulled back a consolation try for the Hornets, but Leigh were in rampant mood and Hopkins claimed his second before Brierley raced 60 metres to complete his hat trick and then crossed for his fourth two minutes later. Gardner completed the 12 try haul with three minutes remaining and Ridyard’s 10th goal had Leigh fans ecstatic at their Cup progress.

Leigh Centurions: Mcnally; Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall; Ridyard, Brierley; Ostlick, Beswick, Parker, Briscoe, Goulden, Taylor; subs (all used) - Nicholson, Hopkins, Bibey, Gallagher.

Tries: Briscoe (4), Ridyard (9), Brierley (15, 45, 69, 71), Littler (23, 49), Maden 928), Hopkins (42,66), Gardner (77)

Goals; Ridyard 10/12

Rochdale Hornets

Tries: Bannister (18), Lucas (34), O’Connor (59)

Goals; Baines 2/2, Hough 1/1

Half time: 26-12

Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow

Attendance: 1,229.