Leigh 68 – 6 Sheffield

Leigh Centurions began their Betfred Championship Shield campaign with a scintillating 12-try display against the Eagles at LSV.

A fortnight after visiting LSV for the last round of the regular season and losing 34-10, the Eagles were put to the sword as Leigh doubled their points tally, scoring 34 points in each half.

France international Ilias Bergal took his tally to seven in his last two games and eleven in his last three including his four tries for Workington on dual registration.

The left wing partnership between Bergal and Matty Dawson-Jones again cut Eagles’ defence to shreds while Jack Owens slotted in at stand-off to notch a personal 24 points haul from a try and ten goals.

Mitch Cox came in for his Leigh debut, earning heritage number #1459 and capped a fine display with a try with only his second touch.

Leigh Centurions head coach Kieron Purtill said: “I thought that after the last couple of weeks we have been through as a group to turn out that performance was really outstanding.

“I’m really made up and proud of all the guys. Not just the guys who played there but the ones that haven’t made the squad. They’ve been really good.

“We focused on the game today and if I could give every one of them the man of the match I would do.

“We scored some good tries. The team has changed a little bit from the last time we played Sheffield. We looked a bit disjointed at times but once we found our groove and our flow we looked really good.

“I thought defensively we were outstanding. The desire and work ethic of everyone to defend the try-line was there for all to see. There was probably a little bit of assistance from the referee for their try but we’ll take that one.

“I was really proud to be involved with these guys this week. They’ve turned it round and performed and rewarded the fans who turned up.

“There’s probably not a great deal to play for until the final but the 17 players that turned out showed what it means to pull on a Leigh shirt and we’ve got to build our foundations on.”

Former Centurions Reserves player Cox was drafted into the squad recently after playing for Thatto Heath in the National Conference and he played centre and in the back row during his debut to remember before heading off to work a night shift.

“Mitch has only trained with us a couple of times,” Purtill added. “He’s full time working and we train during the day. What a great story and what a great character and a great person. To stick his hand up say ‘I’ll play for this club’ shows what it means to him.

“He’s a local lad and hopefully going forward we can build our foundations on players like him. It was a great debut.”

Superb left-wing combinations between Drew Hutchison, Dawson-Jones and Bergal highlighted Leigh’s first half display as the try-hungry French flyer notched a 36-minute hat-trick. Nathan Mason went over 30 metres for a fine individual try, Hutchison dodged his way over and Cox went in for his dream score from close range. Five Owens goals had Leigh 34-0 up at the break.

The Centurions, attacking the North Stand, doubled their score in the second half despite losing Bergal to a leg injury after his close range fourth by the flag.

Ricky Bailey, Liam Hood, Owens, Hutchison and Dawson-Jones all crossed to put the seal on a sparkling attacking display with Owens finishing with ten goals from 12 attempts.

Joshua Toole notched the Eagles’ only score to make it 44-6 just after Dawson-Jones was recalled for a forward pass by Will Dagger when he thought he’d brought up the 50. Toole raced 80 metres from the ensuing scrum after cleverly using the referee as a shield to deceive the cover.

It was a rare highlight for the Eagles who have now conceded 174 points in three games against Leigh this season.

Dagger and fellow loan players Adam and Jordan Walne again produced top displays in a dominant performance that sent the Leigh fans home happy.

Leigh Centurions: Will Dagger; Ricky Bailey, Rhys Evans, Matty Dawson-Jones, Ilias Bergal; Jack Owens, Drew Hutchison; Adam Walne, Liam Hood, Nathan Mason, Kevin Larroyer, Jordan Walne, Jordan Dezaria.

Interchange:
Micky Higham, Jack Blagbrough, Greg Richards, Mitch Cox.

Tries: Bergal (5, 25, 36, 42), Mason (23), Hutchison (28, 74), Cox (39), Bailey (50), Hood (64), Owens (71), Dawson-Jones (78).
Goals: Owens 10/ 12.

Sheffield Eagles: Oscar Thomas; Ilies Macani, Menzie Yere, Joshua Toole, Corey Makelim; Cory Aston, Simon Brown; Mark Offerdahl, Matty Fozard, Shaun Pick, James Bentley, Michael Weldon, Matt James.

Interchange: Greg Burns, Max Garcia, Oliver Davies, Paddy Burns.

Try: Toole (54).
Goals: Thomas 1/ 1.

Referee: Nicholas Bennett;
Half-time: 34-0;
Attendance: 2,647;
Penalty count: 5-5.
Leigh Centurions Man of the Match: Ilias Bergal;

Main Match Sponsor: Cal Sameday;
Associate Sponsor: 24-7 Technology Limited;
Match Ball Sponsor: Bedford Packaging;
Programme Sponsor: SuperLeigh.

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