Leigh Centurions 36 Featherstone Rovers 12

LEIGH Centurions are the undisputed Kingstone Press Championship winners after a six-try Grand Final win over Featherstone Rovers.

The landslide victory followed a perfectly executed plan set out by Paul Rowley and delivered with great efficiency.

Featherstone showed their card early, putting numbers in the tackle to slow the tackle and kicking long but Leigh were more than a match for this and launched an attack from deep that saw the classy Tom Armstrong combine with Liam Kay before the winger drew Rovers fullback Will Sharp and Matt Sarsfield galloped away for his ninth try of the season, converted by Martyn Ridyard.

Sean Penkywicz and Ridyard were key figures in the opening salvo from the Centurions and both were involved in the second try which came in the 18th minute and finished with Ryan Brierley spinning a pass for Gregg McNally to jet heel into the corner.

Just prior to that, Rovers had an opportunity to post points of their own but a flying Brierley tackle floored Gareth Moore after some excellent work by Andy Ellis.

Leigh continued to run hot with Martin Aspinwall impressing and only a timely knock-down from Sharp saved Featherstone.

It proved only temporary respite for Rovers and from the scrum Leigh took the ball to the blindside where Armstrong swept over the line. Ridyards conversion left Featherstone shellshocked and 18-0 dowen with only 22 minutes on the clock.

Rovers then rallied when a rare incursion to the Leigh twenty. Andy Kain kicked right and Sharp plucked the ball from the air to score. Moore goaled to close the deficit to 12 points before Aspinwall saw a try disallowed from a smart Bob Beswick kick.

A Rovers high tackle gave Ridyard the chance to maintain his hundred percent record with the boot and his fourth goal made it 20-6 at the interval.

The first fifteen minutes of the second half belonged to Featherstone. Seven penalties in succession and some good running from Jack Bussey and Luke Teasdale troubled Leigh but they tackled back superbly with Michael Platt making some big defensive reads.

Rovers did however claim their second try after 52 minutes through Sharp. Moore goaled via an upright to close the Centurions advantage to 20-12 before McNally did well to hold Matty James up in-goal.

Oliver Wilkes rolled back the years with a midfield break with Brierley being hauled down short while at the other end Teasdale was cruelly denied by the video referee.

With fifteen minutes remaining Centurions grabbed the crucial try, Ridyard and Brierley combining superbly to get Adam Higson over for a memorable diving effort at the corner.

A blatant attack from Jason Crookes on Armstrong saw the Rovers winger yellow carded, as was Penkywicz for his part in the fracas that followed.

Leigh revelled in the extra space with Sam Barlow bumping off a tackler to romp over from close range for his fifth of the season His dash and celebration for the Leigh fans signalled the start of the party and how the Centurions enjoyed that final nine minutes, despite being reduced to eleven men when Sarsfield was helped off.

Rovers gifted Leigh two points and Ridyard obliged with his sixth goal before the curtain came down on a magnificent season in magical style.

Into the last minute, Ridyard fired a pass right for Platt and Higson to do all the running before Brierley ran over and although Ridyard couldn’t add the conversion, the Centurions collected the trophy and the extra £40,000 prize money bonus.

Team: McNally, Higson, Platt, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Emmitt, Penkywicz, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Walker, Acton, Aspinwall.

Referee: Matt Thomason.