Higson claims hat-trick as Centurions fight back at Batley

Adam Higson of Leigh races in to score against Batley. Photo: Paul McCarthy Photography
Adam Higson of Leigh races in to score against Batley. Photo: Paul McCarthy Photography
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Batley Bulldogs 12 Leigh Centurions 26

LEIGH scored three tries while down to 12 men to overhaul a 12-10 deficit and win 26-12 at Batley.

The home side themselves had trailed 10-0 after just 11 minutes but they scored tries either side of half time to give the Kingstone Press Championship leaders a real scare.

The game ended in chaotic scenes with red cards for Leigh’s Jamie Acton and Tom Lilycrop of Batley after a mass brawl. Centurions forward Gareth Hock was also sinbinned for the second time in the game.

It was the first yellow card for Hock which sparked Leigh’s comeback. With him off the pitch, Centurions scored three tries.

When Hock was yellow carded, Leigh were 12-10 down and looking in danger of losing for the second week in a row having been defeated at London a week ago for the first time in almost a year.

Ryan Brierley was a surprise omission from the Leigh line-up and Ben Reynolds, who signed a new long term contract with the club this week, replaced him.

Playing down the infamous amount Pleasant slope, Paul Rowley’s side started brightly and scored twice in the first 11 minutes.

Gregg McNally broke dangerously and his pass found Bob Beswick in support to score in only the third minute. Martyn Ridyard converted brilliantly from the touch line.

Leigh fashioned a second try a few minutes later, this time it was on the opposite wing where Liam Kay finished well after taking Bob Beswick’s pass from dummy half. Ridyard was unable to add the goal.

But rather than add to their lead, Leigh were forced to defend their own tryline for long periods and at one point Batley had four back to back sets. Centurions looked to have weathered the storm but were undone by an interception try - Wayne Reittie going 50 meters to score under the posts. Scott Leatherbarrow added the conversion.

As the half time hooter loomed, Leigh spurned the chance of a simple looking shot at goal and instead looked for the try. But they couldn’t create an opening and Batley hung on.

Alistair Leak scored early in the second half and a conversion from Leatherbarrow edged Batley in front at 12-10.

The home side continued to press and when Hock was sinbinned for dissent just after the hour mark, they would have fancied their chances.

But the opposite happened - Leigh dug in and scored three tries almost back to back. Higson claimed his second try with a flying finish in the corner before Jake Emmitt powered in from close range. Ridyard kicked the extras.

Higson completed his hat trick nine minutes from time after a kick through by McNally. Ridyard added the conversion.

With a few minutes remaining, an off the ball flare up resulted in red cards for Acton and Lillycrop while Hock saw yellow again.

There were a couple more flash points in a fraught final few moments as Leigh finished the game with 11 men.

Leigh: McNally, Higson, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Reynolds, Moimoi, Beswick, Hock, Dixon, Goulden, Acton. Subs: Higham, Hopkins, Spencer, Emmitt

Batley: Craven, Reittie, Ainscough, Squires, Brown, Mitchell, Leatherbarrow, Rowe, Blake, Gledhill, Bretherton, Day, Chandler. Subs: Leak, Hesketh, Lillycrop, Thackray

Referee: Chris Kendall

Pitch: Average

Attendance: 1,125

Weather: Overcast with showers