LEIGH Centurions emerged with a hard earned but deserved win after an often bruising game at the Ryedale Stadium, but their promotion destiny, was being decided elsewhere.

Runaway victories for Rochdale Hornets and Hunslet Hawks kept them in the top two going into the last weekend of the league season.

Leigh trail leaders Hornets by two points and have equal points with the Hawks, but have a vastly inferior points difference to each of their rivals.

Now all Keith Latham's side can do is beat Lancashire Lynx at Hilton Park on Sunday and hope that York can bring off a shock result at Hunslet.

That heartbreaking last gasp defeat at Batley a fortnight ago could well haunt Leigh all winter.

Against a much improved Wasps side with a run of impressive home form behind them, Leigh dug in and ground out a result with resolution and spirit. They owed much to the nerveless boot of scrum-half Chris Wilkinson as points machine Dean Purtill was ruled out by work commitments.

Wilkinson, returning from suspension, landed four goals and a field goal and his tactical kicking was excellent.

At times Leigh made it hard for themselves, as they often do away from home.

After York's star Australian stand-off Peter Fitzgerald ran from inside his own half for a fourth minute interception try, Leigh showed fine character to fight back.

Stand-in winger David Ingram crossed for a converted try., set up by John Gunning and Wilkinson's kicking saw Leigh sitting pretty at 11-4 on the half hour mark.

But York hooker Alan Pallister, noted for his sharpness around the rucks, twice punished slack defence just before half-time. Fitzgerald added one conversion to give the home side a 14-11 interval lead.

Coach Latham's half time team talk, conducted on the pitch, did the trick as Leigh roared back with opportunist tries by Hill and Fairclough to lead 21-14 after 52 minutes.

A Fitzgerald penalty nine minutes from the end was York's only response as Leigh's defence held impressively firm with few alarms to keep alive their slim hopes of first division football to the final game. LEIGH: O'Loughlin; Sarsfield, Hadcroft, Hill, Ingram, Gunning, Wilkinson, Street, Jenkins, Pucill, Like, Nixon, Fairclough. Sub: Patel, Smith, Blackburn (all played) Darlon (did not play).

Attendance: 721.

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