Leigh Centurions defeated Salford Red Devils 22-18 this afternoon in the fifth round of the Ladbokes Challenge Cup at Leigh Sports Village in a superb Cup tie.
In a game that fluctuated throughout the 80 minutes, the Centurions who had Gareth Hock on the bench, preserved their record of not having lost at home for 21 successive matches, although it was a close thing, and the Red Devils suffered the loss of Michael Dobson (knee) and Junior S’au (arm) to injuries in the first half.
The Red Devils opened the scoring in the seventh minute, when Theo Fages went over the line from first receiver after a great charge in the previous tackle by Cory Paterson. Dobson kicked the goal, but had to leave the field seven minutes later.
And as Leigh came back into the game, the influential Bob Beswick created a try for Tommy Goulden, and soon afterwards they were in for a second when Beswick made a break and handed on to Gregg McNally for the try, with Martyn Ridyard converting both tries and S’au having to leave the field shortly after Leigh’s second try.
Hock entered the field in the 30th minute, but generally wasn’t one of the most influential Leigh players.
The Red Devils drew level on 34 minutes, when Niall Evalds scored a try from a break by Fages, with Paterson adding the conversion in Dobson’s absence.
And Fages created a second try for Evalds early in the second half, with Paterson again converting.
The Centurions looked to be tiring, but then they stormed back into the game when Ryan Brierley intercepted a pass from Ben Jones-Bishop to get over the line, and Ridyard converted to level the scores.
And three minutes later Jonny Pownall took Leigh into the lead when Brierley and McNally created a chance on the outside. Ridyard missed the conversion, but the Centurions were able to hold on in a frantic ending to a game that was a credit to Rugby League, the Challenge Cup and the Championship.
A full and more detailed report will feature in Monday’s edition of Rugby League Express.