LEIGH Centurions earned a Tetley’s Challenge Cup fifth round home tie against Featherstone Rovers with a narrow 28-22 win at Rochdale Hornets on Sunday afternoon.
Centunions made a roaring start with Tom Spencer charging strongly and Oliver Wilkes crossing for two well-worked tries in the opening eight minutes.
The first came courtesy of a short pass from Martyn Ridyard with the second following after Matty Sarsfield sliced through the defence.
Ridyard converted both and the Centurions appeared to be flying. Sarsfield saw a try chalked off but Leigh kept up their momentum when Ridyard raced through to go under the posts.
He converted his own try to make it 18-0 after 24 minutes.
A break from former Leigh player Chris Baines brought the best out of Gregg McNally, but Hornets moved the ball down the right for Wayne English to hand Sean Casey a try.
A destructive inside run and perfect offload brought the hosts back into contention with English dashing to the posts, but Leigh appeared to put the game beyond Rochdale with two tries in four minutes.
Ridyard decided to run a play on the last tackle and Ryan Brierley blazed away for his 16th try of the season, goaled superbly from the touchline.
When McNally scored from wide out, the Centurions led 28-10 but Rochdale came back with a freak try.
Direct from the restart, the ball bobbled away from Ridyard into the grateful path of Jordan Case. Paul Crook goaled and was on hand to nudge over the extras just before the hour mark when Casey kicked ahead and English grounded the ball.
Rochdale had a further opportunity when Liam Kay appeared to fluff his lines deep inside his own 20 but referee David Sharpe deemed a scrum was sufficient despite Hornets grounding what they felt was a try.
Stuart Littler then fell foul of Sharpe and earned a yellow card. But Leigh are a tough side. They scrambled heroically for his 10 minutes off the field and then had enough tenacity to hold Hornets at bay and keep their involvement in the famous competition.