Leigh 30 – 38 Featherstone

Leigh Centurions went down to their fourth defeat in five Betfred Championship games after a thrilling 13-try game at LSV.

Caretaker coach Kieron Purtill saw a big improvement in the side’s attacking fluency in his first game in charge with Micky Higham rolling back the years to have a superb game on his comeback.

But Leigh’s familiar defensive frailties, particularly out wide remained and once again they failed to protect a hard-earned lead in the last quarter.

Tom Briscoe finally settled the issue with his second try two minutes from time, making an audacious ball steal and racing clear from halfway as Leigh tried desperately to pull the game out of the fire.

Ex-Leigh favourite Martyn Ridyard made an emotional return to LSV playing against his home town club for the first time. His two second tries proved decisive and capped his influential display.

Ben Crooks scored a fine hat-trick in vain for the Centurions, who again let slip a half-time lead.

In all five games this season Leigh have led at the break only to surrender that lead on four occasions.

They led 20-14 on this occasion and then 28-20 just after the hour-mark.

Rovers hit back with Ridyard’s second try but Craig Hall’s penalty made it 30-26. A close range Mitch Clark effort saw Rovers lead 32-30 and then Leigh Man of the Match Harrison Hansen had what could have been the clinching try chalked off for a forward pass.

In games as tight as this it all boils down to small margins.

Briscoe’s first try got Rovers off to a flying start but Rhys Evans seized on a loose ball to race over from halfway on his first appearance of the season.

Crooks cut through for his first try but Shaun Robinson got Rovers level at 8-8 midway through a fast and furious first half.

Ian Hardman’s penalty gave Rovers the lead and Ridyard then created a try for Connor Farrell but Bodene Thompson levelled and then Crooks’ second try gave Leigh that six-point lead at the break.

Ben Reynolds was helped off with a knee injury that Leigh will anxiously assess in the morning. With Daniel Mortimer already ruled out for upto ten weeks and Kurt Baptiste returning to Australia they are desperately short of pivots.

Ridyard then pinched an interception and raced clear to level the scores at 20-20.

Matty Dawson-Jones’ spectacular flying finish and Crooks’ hat-trick effort once more looked to have put their side in the ascendancy before the dramatic finish.

Leigh Centurions: Craig Hall; Matty Dawson-Jones, Ben Crooks, Peter Mata’utia, Rhys Evans; Ben Reynolds, Drew Hutchison; Greg Richards, Liam Hood, Harrison Hansen (captain), Larne Patrick, Bodene Thompson, Jordan Thompson. Interchange: Micky Higham, Paterika Vaivai, Jamie Acton, Kevin Larroyer.

Tries: Evans (8), Crooks (16, 31, 61), B Thompson (28), Dawson-Jones (55); Goals: Reynolds 0/ 1, Hall 3/ 6.

Featherstone Rovers: Ian Hardman; Luke Briscoe, Josh Hardcastle, Anthony Thackeray, Shaun Robinson; Martyn Ridyard, Tom Holmes; Mitch Clark, Keal Carlile, Mikolaj Oledzki, Connor Farrell, Frankie Mariano, Bradley Knowles. Interchange: Matty Wildie, Gareth Hock, Jack Ormondroyd, Sam Brooks.

Tries: Briscoe (3, 78), Robinson (20), Farrell (25), Ridyard (52, 64), Clark (73); Goals: Hardman 1/ 4, Ridyard 4/ 4.

Referee: Chris Kendall;
Attendance: 3,594;
Half-time: 20-14;
Penalty count: 8-5.

Main Match Sponsor: Chassis and Cab Specialist Ltd;
Associate Sponsors: Glazing Systems & Installations Ltd; Evans Halshaw Vauxhall.
Match Ball Sponsor: The Centurion.
Programme Sponsors: Hilltop Products; EDP.
Man of the Match: Harrison Hansen.
Mascots: Madison Arkwright, Olivia Leech.

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