Leigh Centurions 42 North Wales Crusaders 22
LEIGH’S next generation took centre stage as a side including 10 debutants dismantled North Wales Crusaders at the Sports Village.
This was almost an entirely different side to the one that beat Wigan 18-14 a week ago and they provided an exciting glimpse into the future.
Winger Corey Lee scored an impressive hat-trick while the sons of former Leigh players – Elliot Liku and Sam Hansen – enjoyed sound debuts as they followed in the footsteps of their fathers Tau and Lee who played for Centurions in the 1990s.
New signing Andrew Dixon also did enough to suggest he will be a valuable addition to the squad having arrived from Salford just three days earlier.
Half-back Ben Reynolds also caught the eye in only his second game for the club with a mature display.
Leigh head coach Paul Rowley took a back seat for the game, allowing his assistant Neil Jukes and reserves coach Paul Anderson to take control of team matters.
Only four minutes had been played when Leigh took the lead. Sam Peet was first to react to a Crusaders knock on and raced 30 metres to score. Reynolds was unable to convert.
Despite their inexperienced line-up, Leigh continued to create the better chances and scored a second try in the 15th minute.
Sam Hopkins took a short ball on a nice angle to score by the posts and Reynolds added the extras.
The Welsh side opened their account in the 24th minute when full-back Tommy Johnson hit a good line to score a try he also converted.
Centurions responded well with two tries in as many minutes. First Lee went over after a long pass from Dixon had over-stretched the Crusaders defence then Jonathan Pownall did well to touch down an improvised kick from Lee who had looked to be going out of play. Reynolds converted the former to give Leigh a 20-6 half-time lead.
North Wales scored first after the break through Owain Griffiths but Leigh responded with a sensational spell including three tries in four minutes,
Lee, Pownall and Lee again all went over and Hansen added two out of three conversion attempts to give Leigh a 36-10 lead.
Gary Middlehurst replied for Crusaders before Jonathan Walker crashed over for Leigh with 12 minutes remaining.
The visitors completed the scoring with a try from Alex Thompson, converted by Scott Turner in the 71st minute.