Leigh Centurions 26 Halifax 24

Oliver Wilkes scored Leigh's decisive try

Oliver Wilkes scored Leigh's decisive try

First published in Sport by

LEIGH Centurions maintained their 100 per cent Kingstone Press Championship record, beating Halifax to claim a 14th straight win and go seven points clear of Featherstone at the top of the table.

But it was a close run thing with Paul Rowley’s side seemingly heading for their first league defeat when the visitors scored two second-half tries to lead 24-20 in the closing minutes.

But seven minutes from time Oliver Wilkes crossed for his second try of the night and Martyn Ridyard held his nerve to land the conversion and secure the points.

The Centurions, who came agonisingly close to causing a major upset in the Challenge Cup against Leeds three days earlier, opened up in superb form.

Johnny Pownall was denied a try at the corner but was successful at the second attempt in the sixth minute after being set up Gregg McNally. Ridyard’s successful conversion made it 6-0.

A big 40-20 kick from Ridyard put Leigh on the offensive again and they made it count when Sam Barlow smuggled a superb ball inside for Wilkes to go under the posts.

Halifax roared back into the contest after 17 minutes when Ryan Fieldhouse fired a pass left and wing Gareth Potts went over by the flag.

Steve Tyrer landed a superb conversion, but Leigh again showed their finishing prowess when Barlow and Matty Sarsfield combined through the middle and McNally finished superbly.

The Centurions then had to show their defensive steel as Halifax threw everything at them.

Danny Cowling was put out of play on the right before Chris Hankinson worked hard to deny Tyrer.

Ryan Brierley had a try disallowed for a forward pass and as Leigh laboured, Halifax struck again just before the interval, Tyrer taking Simon Brown's cross-kick to go in on the left. His conversion closed the half with the Centurions ahead 18-12.

Following a niggling start to the second half, when Ridyard was pole-axed by a high tackle, he stepped up to tag on a penalty to stretch their advantage to 20-12.

A series of ugly skirmishes followed with Barlow felled. Dane Manning and Kurt Haggerty were both red-carded and the game roared into action with Leigh laying seige to the Fax line.

Unfortunately for the Centurions they could not make it count and when McNally had the ball stolen by Brown, Luke Ambler forced his way over to cut the deficit.

Halifax took the lead when they claimed another try when Callum Casey ducked beneath two tackles to get the touchdown. Tyrer added his fourth goal to nudge the visitors further in front at 24-20.

Leigh hit back in bizarre fashion when Sean Penkywicz lifted the ball over the head of Fieldhouse who fumbled and Wilkes cashed in to score what turned out to be the decisive try to bring the scores level - and Ridyard did the rest.

Even then it took a magnificent tackle by McNally to save the day for the Centurions after Halifax threatened through Potts.

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