Halifax 6 Leigh Centurions 18
JONATHAN Pownall scored an opportunist try with just five minutes remaining to finally secure victory in dreadful conditions for Leigh at The Shay.
The winger, in the team as a replacement for the injured Adam Higson, scooped up a wayward pass 30 metres from the Halifax tryline and trudged through the mud to score.
Centurions had been hanging on to a 12-6 lead for much of the second half and the home side were not short of possession either.
But Leigh’s defence held firm and Pownall’s killer try was greeted with joy and relief by their coach Paul Rowley.
“I thought both sides played really well in the conditions,” he said.
“There were two very committed sides out there. We played smarter in the first half and ultimately those two tries got us home.
“It’s difficult chasing the game in weather like that and although Halifax made a good fist of it in the second half, they couldn’t do it.
“Our completion rate in the first half was 91% which is phenomenal. We promoted the ball and tried to play despite the conditions.”
Centurions dominated the first half but were perhaps unlucky not to be further than 12-0 up at the break.
Liam Kay scored two superb tries in the 17th and 21st minutes, both converted by Martyn Ridyard, to engineer that advantage.
Kay’s first effort was all his own work, taking on the defence before kicking ahead. His second was about the link play infield with Ryan Brierley’s long pass causing the danager.
Halifax’s cause had been hindered by the 28th minute sin-binning of Mitch Cahalane for an off-the-ball clash with Leigh’s Sam Barlow.
Centurions made very few errors and varied their kicking game as they starved the home side of possession and defensively they were sound.
On a day for forwards, Jake Emmitt was outstanding with some crucial runs and tackles while hookers Bob Beswick and Sean Penkywicz played with typical intelligence.
Halifax improved markedly after the restart but their try was down to a Leigh mistake rather than a piece of skill.
In the 47th minute, Pownall’s wayward inside pass was kicked ahead and Ryan Maneely was able to regather and score. Steve Tyrer’s conversion cut Leigh’s lead to just six.
Halifax continued to build pressure in the Centurions half but they struggled to craft a clear opening.As time kicked away, Halifax started to be a little more cavalier in their play but a combination of scrambling Leigh defence and unforced errors meant they were leaving themselves vulnerable to a counter attack.
And so it proved in the 75th minute when Pownall was quickest to react after a loose pass and ran 30 metres to the tryline. Ridyard goaled, his third from three attempts.
Leigh: McNally, Pownall, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Moimoi, Penkywicz, Walker, Haggerty, Goulden, Emmitt. Subs: Beswick, Wilkes, Barlow, Hopkins
Halifax: Greenwood, Brown, Taylor, Tyrer, Saltonstall, Place, Murrell, Cahalane, Kaye, Ambler, Manning, Divorty, Bracek. Subs: Tangata, Spencer, Moore, Maneely
Referee: Matt Thomason
Pitch: Very heavy
Weather: Cold with with sleet showers