LEIGH locked out Widnes in the second half to win a thrilling game and ensure a top two finish.
It was Leigh’s third victory over the Super League destined Vikings this season, but unlike the previous two clashes, the Centurions’ attacking prowess was not allowed to get in top gear by a third placed Widnes side determined to try and overhaul their rivals.
However Leigh did repeat their feat of the previous two meetings when coming back from being behind at half time to sweep to a victory that had their fans roaring them on.
Widnes were looking for a ninth successive game without defeat but in an encounter played at a furious pace it was the Centurions who came out on top with Jamie Ellis outstanding to show he will be a force to be reckoned with when joining Hull next season.
But this was primarily a strong team effort with Chris Hill, the rejuvenated David Mills against one of his former clubs, and another ex-Viking Mick Nanyn prominent in a gripping encounter.
Widnes showed they meant business from the start and when Ben Kavanagh broke, Steve Tyrer was on hand to go in for arty to which he added the extras.
But Leigh soon hit back as the lively Robbie Hunter-Paul slipped through a gap and sent Martyn Ridyard sliding in for a try to which Nanyn added the extras to square the game some ten minutes later.
It was Leigh then hitting the front as more strong forward play from Stuart Littler and Tommy Goulden set up the opportunity for the supporting Ellis on 23 minutes, and again Nanyn goaled.
But it looked like fortune may be favouring the home side when a Joe Mellor grubber kick freakishly bounced up and hit the cross bar to wrong foot the Leigh defence. Dom Crosby was quickest to react to the rebound to score and with Tyrer goaling it was all square again on the half hour.
That seemed set to be the half time situation, but with three minutes remaining in the half Logan Tomkins was on hand to grab a third Vikings try for Tyrer to again goal for an 18-12 interval lead.
It was all on for Leigh in that second period, but Leigh came out of the dressing rooms determined to get back on level pegging, and it was the visitors’ defence that constantly frustrated a Vikings side desperate to score.
On 51 minutes Leigh drew level when Nanyn powered over after a spell of pressure as John Duffy’s darts had created problems, and with the big centre adding the conversion it was anybody’s game.
But the momentum was with Leigh and as they powered forward, they snatched victory with a try that was worthy of winning any game as Rhys Evans broke , found Steve Maden in support who raced up field before turning the ball inside for Ellis to claim his second try. Nanyn couldn’t add the conversion but did add a penalty late on to seal victory.