Batley 12 – 30 Leigh

Leigh Centurions kept alive their hopes of a top four finish in the Betfred Championship by completing a seasonal treble over the Bulldogs at a sun baked Fox’s Biscuits Stadium.

They did it the hard way, playing for 73 minutes with 12 men after Jamie Acton was red carded and overcoming a 12-4 half-time deficit with a dominant second half performance down the infamous Mount Pleasant slope.

Skipper Harrison Hansen led from the front with two second half tries to take his seasonal tally to 11 tries while Ilias Bergal- a late call-up after Rhys Evans pulled up in the warm-up- also grabbed a brace to make it five tries in as many games for the Centurions.

Ricky Bailey, who was in outstanding form and Ben Reynolds also got on the scoresheet to leave head coach Kieron Purtill reflecting on a hard fought win that showed the character of his side.

Leigh’s Challenge Cup win at a wintry Mount Pleasant in March ignited their season after the disastrous opening of five league defeats in six games and four months on this was an equally important win.

“It was a roller coaster of a game,” Purtill said. “Full credit to Batley, they always make it tough when we come here.

“They play the ground really well and they came with their A game and gave us a good test.

“We got over a bit of adversity, losing Rhys in the warm up and then Jamie Acton early on so we were down to 12 men up the hill.

“The pleasing thing about the first half was the way the boys dug in and hung on in there and we gave ourselves a chance second half.

“We came together as a group, led from the front by our captain Harrison Hansen and his determination to run hard saw him lead his team forward and we came away with the two points.

“With 12 men, backing up on a tough trip to Toronto we dug deep for one another and kept our hopes of the top four alive.

“The conditions were a polar opposite to the last time we played here. Then the snow was piled up five or six feet around the pitch and it was freezing. Today the pitch was also rock hard but the sun was burning down. Just as we did in March we showed our character as a team.”

Batley dominated the first quarter and scored tries in either corner through wing-men Keenen Tomlinson and Johnny Campbell despite losing Tom Hemingway who was stretchered off in the incident that saw Acton red carded.

Bergal pulled a try back in the corner after smart work by Craig Hall but Pat Walker’s penalty gave the home side an eight-point advantage at the turnaround.

Ricky Bailey’s try in the right corner ignited Leigh’s recovery and with Captain Fantastic Hansen twice crashing over either side of an individual Reynolds try- after he followed up his own kick to score- the large contingent of travelling fans could finally relax.

Bergal put the seal on a satisfying win with a spectacular diving finish in the corner.

Batley: Scott; Tomlinson, Smeaton, Galbraith, Campbell; Walker, Hemingway; Lillycrop, Leak, Rowe, Manning, Harrison, Farrell.
Interchange: Ward, Davey, Chandler, Bretherton.

Tries: Tomlinson (2), Campbell (21);
Goals: Walker 2/ 3.

Leigh: Owens; Ricky Bailey, Crooks, Hall, Bergal; Reynolds, Hutchison; Ryan Bailey, Hood, Acton, Larroyer, Hansen, J Thompson.
Interchange: Mortimer, Richards, Blagbrough, Walne.

Tries: Bergal (23, 79), Ricky Bailey (45), Hansen (49, 62), Reynolds (58);
Goals: Reynolds 3/ 6.

Red card: Acton (7).
Referee: James Child;
Attendance: 1,223;
Penalty count: 10-12;
Half-time: 12-4.

Photographs courtesy of Gorilla Photography & OnionBag Photography:

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