Leigh Centurions 30 Dewsbury Rams 22
LEIGH needed two tries in the last three minutes to preserve their winning start to the Kingstone Press Championship season.
Winger Jonathan Pownall scored both as Centurions edged home in a dramatic finale against Dewsbury at the Sports Village.
Leigh, while not at their best, had looked in little danger leading 22-10 as the game entered the last 10 minutes. But Dewsbury scored twice in quick succession to level the game at 22-22 and Centurions’ 16 game winning streak looked to be in danger.
But Leigh held their nerve and responded strongly to keep their phenomenal winning run going while strengthening their grip at the top of the Kingstone Press Championship.
With only three minutes left on the clock, Ryan Brierley’s floated kick to the corner was gathered in by Pownall to wrestle back the lead at 26-22. Then with time almost up, Brierley was involved again, taking on the line before finding Pownall with the space to finish at the corner.
Pownall’s fellow winger Liam Kay also scored twice before being sin-binned in the closing stages as Dewsbury went close to an upset.
A rather slow-paced and even first half had ended 10-10. Leigh led in the 12th minute following Martyn Ridyard’s well-placed kick to the corner which was caught and grounded by Brierley. Ridyard also added the conversion.
The visitors were level within three minutes - centre Shane Grady capitalising on a Leigh handling error near half-way. Tom Hemingway added the extras.
Leigh led again in the 22nd minute thanks to another Ridyard kick - this time Kay was the beneficiary and scored in the corner. Moments before the break, Dewsbury backrower Scott Hale finished off some attractive approach play and the sides went in level, 10-10 at the break.
Within two minutes of the restart, Centurions led again. Kay produced some nice footwork to finish off when faced with Rams full-back Karl Pryce. Ridyard added the conversion.
Leigh continued to press but they had to wait until the 65th minute for a fourth try. Sean Penkywicz took on the Rams defence before his well-timed pass saw the again impressive Tommy Goulden crash over.
Ridyard’s goal extended Leigh’s lead to an all important 12 points.
With nothing to lose, Dewsbury started to play a more adventurous game and they enjoyed some good spells in the Leigh half. With nine minutes of the game remaining, the ball was worked out to Dale Morton who scored in the corner. An excellent conversion from the touchline by Hemingway meant the deficit was just one converted score.
Rams continued to dominate and were boosted when Kay was sin-binned for deliberate obstruction. Leigh were further punished when Grady slid over for a second try, Hemingway’s conversion levelling the scores at 22-22.
But Dewsbury put themselves under immediate pressure by dropping the restart. From the scrum, Leigh were able to work an opening for Brierley whose kick was touched down by Pownall and with time almost up, Pownall grabbed his second.
Leigh: McNally, Pownall, Hankinson, Thornley, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Hopkins, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Penkywicz, Wilkes, Bate, Emmitt
Tries: Pownall 2, Kay 2, Brierley, Goulden
Goals: Ridyard: 3 (from six)
Dewsbury: Pryce, Morton, Beckett, Grady, Buchanan, Briggs, Thackray, Dowes, Hemingway, Aizue, Murphy, Hale, Gallagher. Subs: Hyde, Hepworth, Nash, Haggerty
Tries: Grady 2, Hale, Morton
Goals: Hemingway 3 (from four)
Referee: Joe Cobb; Attendance: 2217; Pitch: Very good; Weather: Dry and bright