Slick Centurions smash half century barrier again

Gregg McNally of Leigh scores against Whitehaven. Photo: Brian King
Gregg McNally of Leigh scores against Whitehaven. Photo: Brian King

Leigh Centurions 52 Whitehaven 0

FIFTY TWO is proving to be Leigh’s lucky number in 2014.

In the opening game of the season Centurions beat Batley 52-12 then last week won 52-8 at Barrow.

Yesterday they were just as lethal, dispatching Whitehaven 52-0 at the Sports Village. Scrum half Ryan Brierley scored a hat-trick to add to the eight he had already scored in 2014 and Tom Armstrong also weighed in with a couple as Centurions produced another impressive performance.

Paul Rowley made several changes to the side which won handsomely at Barrow a week earlier. Liam Kay replaced Alex Brown on the wing while Martin Aspinwall was recalled to the pack ahead of Ryan Duffy. There was also a welcome return from injury for hooker Sean Penkywicz on the bench.

Having scored 52 in their previous two games perhaps the first half onslaught from Leigh should not have come as a shock. As early as the third minute, Stuart Littler was unlucky not to score after taking Martyn Ridyard’s kick on the last tackle.

As it was we had to wait another 10 minutes for the first try. Gregg McNally split the defence and his pass found Tom Armstrong on his shoulder who finished off from 30 metres.

Whitehaven’s restart went out on the full and Centurions took full advantage. Once again it was Armstrong powering over as Leigh attacked the left hand side of the Haven defence again. With Ridyard adding both goals, Leigh led 12-0 after 15 minutes.

Haven looked as if they might reduce the arrears as they piled forward but typical of their afternoon, a pass on the last tackle was intercepted by McNally who sprinted 70 metres to score against his hometown club.

Moments later, Centurions were clocking a point a minute as Armstrong’s break opened up the Haven defence and the ball was moved infield for Tommy Goulden to score.

On the half hour Ridyard’s well-timed pass sliced open the visitors’ defence and Ryan Brierley raced through the gap. Four minutes before half-time, Centurions went in for their sixth try, again on the left hand side. This time it was Kay with too much speed for the cover, going 40 metres to score in the corner. Ridyard’s touchline conversion was his sixth from as many attempts and gave Leigh a 36-0 lead. Ridyard was helped off the field with a shoulder injury just before the break but Leigh coach Paul Rowley later said he expected the stand off to be fit for Sunday’s trip to Keighley.

When Brierley went in for his second within a minute of the restart there was a feeling Leigh could be looking at breaking that magical 52 point barrier with some ease. But the game became fragmented with the heavy rain making life more difficult for both sides. There was also a bit more fight from the Cumbrians - literally at times - which made for a pretty scrappy second half.

Brierley completed his hat-trick in the 58th minute, this time adding the conversion too. Jacob Emmitt scored from close range as the game entered the final quarter and Brierley’s conversion meant Leigh had again reached 52 points. Despite their best efforts they were unable to score again and finished the game with 12 men following the sin-binning of Sam Barlow for retaliation.

Leigh: McNally, Higson, Littler, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Aspinwall, Sarsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Penkywicz, Wilkes, Emmitt, Haggerty

Tries: Brierley 3, Armstrong 2McNally, Goulden, Kay

Goals: Ridyard 6 (from 6 attempts); Brierley 2 (from 3 attempts)

Whitehaven: Carr, Calvert. Parker, McAvoy, Ainscough, Taylor, Southernwood, Hand, Newton, Arahou, Mitchell, Doran, Jackson. Subs: Thorman, Marabe, Culnean, Crellin

Referee: Dave Merrick

Attendance: 2,006