LEIGH Centurions fought their way through to the quarter finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup with an historic 26-16 victory against Featherstone Rovers today as Ryan Brierley's hat-trick inspired them.
Going into the tie, Leigh had won only one of 10 previous fixtures against Rovers.
But they went into the lead within a minute at Leigh Sports Village when swift hands got Liam Kay down the left wing and he turned the ball infield for top scorer Brierley to get away from the chasing Rovers players.
Featherstone responded quickly when a measured kick by Ian Hardman was touched down by Will Sharp at the corner but Gareth Moore swept his conversion wide.
For the next 20 minutes Leigh were second best with Rovers rolling forward with their big pack.
Hardman slipped a pass out for James Mendeika to slide in at the corner before Will Sharp got around the edge of the defence to snare his second try after 22 minutes.
Moore again hooked his attempt wide and Leigh came right back at their visitors.
Kay snapped up a loose pass and went 40 metres before a sublime ball from Sam Barlow put Gregg McNally through the middle.
The full-back kept his nerve to then pop the ball out and Brierley’s persistence saw him cross for his 20th try of the season.
Ridyard levelled the game with his second goal and both sides saw opportunities go begging before half-time.
The second half fizzed into action with Rovers dominating possession for the opening eight minutes.
Leigh held their nerve and their try line intact and responded in great style.
Ridyard threaded the ball through for Kay to win the race for the corner and as Rovers reeled, Leigh hit them for a fourth try with Kurt Haggerty holding off several defenders in the 64th minute to make it 20-12.
Eight minutes from time the Centurions made sure of their place in the next round when Tommy Goulden cleverly drew the defence and fired the ball back inside for Brierley to dart through for his hat-trick score, which he also converted.
Rovers had the final say when Mendeika went in for his second try but Leigh held their nerve to win.