Leigh Centurions got their Betfred Championship campaign off to a flying start with a fantastic all-round team performance to defeat Toulouse at LSV in front of a near 3,000 crowd.
Head coach John Duffy was understandably delighted with the way his recently built squad dealt with the challenge of top class opponents.
The four Saints dual registration players, Luke Douglas, Matty Costello, Aaron Smith and Jack Ashworth all played a big part with the match sponsors The Centurion Pub selecting Ashworth as Man of the Match.
With ten players earning Leigh Heritage Numbers it was an amazing result against a highly respected team that came close to the MPG last year.
The Adamson brothers, Toby and Luke, Stefan Marsh, Josh Woods, Sam Brooks and Joe Cator were other players to earn their coveted numbers.
Martyn Ridyard, celebrating his 250th career game, Tom Spencer, playing his 100th Leigh game, Gregg McNally, Jonny Pownall and the Thornley brothers, Iain and Andy, had all earned Heritage Numbers during previous stints with the Centurions.
So only captain Micky Higham remained from the 2018 line-up.
Duffy said: “It was a great display from us. I thought we were really good for the full 80. The crowd was unbelievable. They brought it home for us in the second half.
“I can’t speak highly enough of that group – we’ve got a real special group. I know it’s only our first week but we’ve got a win against a really, really good team.
“We can’t get giddy about it but we can keep building and getting better. Our pivots got us round the field really well. The Saints lads were outstanding and really bought into what we are doing.”
Toulouse scored first when Stan Robin reacted first to Mark Khierallah’s kick before Leigh showed some outstanding combination to score three first half tries.
The outstanding Pownall, whose work-rate was incredible, finished brilliantly in the corner after Woods and Gregg McNally combined and Marsh did brilliantly to touch down McNally’s high kick to the left corner. Costello then completed a flowing passing move with Pownall proving the decisive inside pass.
Paul Marcon pulled back a try in the corner to leave the teams separated by just four points at the interval in what was a great advert for the Championship.
Joe Cator capped an all-action debut with a debut try in front of the North Stand and Ridyard’s fourth goal, a 68th minute penalty, gave his side a 12pt cushion.
Marcon grabbed his second try in the corner to set up an anxious finale but Leigh’s terrific defence held firm and their near faultless second half completion rate played a massive part in a richly deserved win that was rapturously received by the home crowd.
Leigh Centurions: Gregg McNally; Jonny Pownall, Matty Costello, Iain Thornley, Stefan Marsh; Martyn Ridyard, Josh Woods; Luke Douglas, Micky Higham (capt), Sam Brooks, Toby Adamson, Andy Thornley, Luke Adamson.
Interchange: Aaron Smith, Joe Cator, Jack Ashworth, Tom Spencer.
Tries: Pownall (16), Marsh (22), Costello (25), Cator (44);
Goals: Ridyard 4/ 5.
Toulouse Olympique: Mark Khierallah; Paul Marcon, Gavin Marguerite, Bastien Ader, Tony Maurel; Jonathon Ford, Stan Robin; Maxime Puech, Anthony Marion, Joe Bretherton, Constantine Mika, Rhys Curran, Brenden Santi.
Interchange: Dean Parata, Clement Boyer, Paterika Vaivai, Ben Evans.
Tries: Robin (5), Marcon (33, 72);
Goals: Khierallah 2/ 2, Marion 0/ 1.
Penalty count: 9-5;
Referee: Marcus Griffiths.
Leigh Centurions Man of the Match: Jack Ashworth.
Main Match Sponsor: The Centurion Pub;
Match Ball Sponsor: 24/ 7 Technology;
Digital Programme Sponsor: ProBuild Plumbing & Heating.
Photos Courtesy of: OnionBag Photography