Leigh Centurions 60 Whitehaven 0
LEIGH Centurions set a new club record for the most consecutive wins - 17 - with a crushing victory over Whitehaven at the Sports Village.
The previous record of 16 in a row was set last year and equaled a week ago with the Challenge Cup fourth round success over London Broncos.
Centurions’ last defeat was at Doncaster in July 2014, the only league reverse they suffered in a season when they won both the League Leaders’ Shield and the Grand Final.
There was no suggestion that Whitehaven were going to spoil the party as Leigh raced into a 32-0 half-time lead then almost doubled their advantage after the restart.
Winger Jonathan Pownall and Liam Kay scored hat-tricks while Martyn Ridyard scored two and kicked six goals.
“It’s a wonderful achievement to win 17 matches in a row,” said Leigh coach Paul Rowley. “When you have a young team they only look at what’s next and don’t dwell on records like that. But it’s something to be proud of and it’s the older guys who will probably appreciate it more.”
The game was also significant for Leigh club captain Oliver Wilkes who was making his 400th senior career appearance.
Leigh stay top of the Kingstone Press Championship heading into the busy Easter weekend and they even had the luxury of resting three of their first choice forwards - Sam Barlow, Fuifui Moimoi and Kurt Haggerty.
In came Martin Aspinwall for his first game of the season along with Andrew Dixon and Tom Spencer and all three turned in good performances.
But it was in the backline where Leigh excelled with both wingers getting hat-tricks and plenty of threat from the likes of Michael Platt and Tom Armstrong in the centres and Gregg McNally at full-back.
Pownall scored his first after just three minutes. Michael Platt made the break towards the corner and his flipped inside pass saw Pownall collect to go over.
Five minutes later, Kay got his first meaning he’s scored in every Leigh game this season. It came after some slick attacking down the left side with Tom Armstrong providing the killer pass.
Whitehaven’s problems worsened when they we penalised for offside at the restart. Leigh made the most of their chance, scoring a third try through Platt.
Pownall scored his second after 22 minutes. Whitehaven were enjoying their best attack of the game but Jessie Joe Parker’s pass was intercepted by McNally who made 50 metres before his inside pass sent Pownall racing away for a superb score. Ridyard did convert on this occasion and Leigh led 18-0.
Twelve minutes before half-time, Brierley threaded through a kick to the ingoal for Ridyard to chase and touch down. He also added the extras.
Superb hands across the line saw Kay score his second in the 30th minute before Pownall completed a first half hat-trick as he followed up a McNally break after Brierley had started the move.
With less than a minute of the second half played, Leigh were in again. Pownall was held up just short as he looked for his fourth try then Jake Emmitt barged in from close range.
McNally enjoyed scoring a try against his hometown club after being set up by Kay before Kay himself completed his hat-trick as he capitalised on a long pass from Sean Penkywicz.
A double sin-binning in the 58th minute saw both sides reduced to 12. Tyla Hepi appeared to lash out at Jamie Acton and both saw yellow for the altercation which ensued.
After an hour, Brierley raced in after some more quick approach play and the conversion from Ridyard made it 54-0.
Whitehaven had more of the ball in the final quarter but they were unable to find a way through and with seven minutes remaining, Centurions completed the scoring with their 11th try. Brierley got clear and his pass to the supporting Ridyard helped his half-back partner claim his second try.
Leigh: McNally, Pownall, Platt, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Spencer, Beswick, Acton, Dixon, Goulden, Hopkins. Subs: Penkywicz, Wilkes, Aspinwall, Emmitt
Whitehaven: Wilde, Burns, Holliday, Parker, Calvert, Aiye, Seymour, Davies, Fox, Lloyd, Allen, McAvoy. Subs: Hepi, Robinson, Newton, Lepori
Referee: Robert Hicks