Leigh Centurions secured their place in the fifth round of the Coral Challenge Cup with a hard-earned win over Batley Bulldogs at Leigh Sports Village on Friday evening.
In-form centre Iain Thornley scored two tries while Ben Reynolds enjoyed a great night with the boot, kicking six goals from as many attempts in difficult conditions.
Recent signing Ryan Shaw made his first appearance as a permanent Leigh player having made three appearances on loan from Warringon Wolves in 2012. There was a debut for Craig Mullen who is on season-long loan at the club from Wigan Warriors.
Leigh Head Coach John Duffy switched Matty Wildie from hooker to scrum-half and he enjoyed a busy night as he switched back to hooker following an ankle injury to Liam Hood just before half-time.
Duffy was pleased to have reached the next stage of the competition though admitted he wasn’t entirely satisfied with the performance. He said: “It was a scrappy one – I thought Batley were really good. They have got some big boys through the middle and then Shaun Lunt coming off the bench who really picked them up.
“We gave some opportunities to a couple of players tonight and I thought Ryan Shaw went really well on the wing. But on the whole there were too many errors and we didn’t hit our standards in a few patches. We have got to learn from it – we’ll probably have a few games like this during the season – but we are in the next round.”
After three successive wins at the start of the 2020 Betfred Championship season, Leigh looked sharp from the off and were ahead after only four minutes when Hood went over from dummy half and Reynolds added the extras.
A nice step inside from captain Danny Addy created the space for him to score his first try for the Club from close range in the 10th minute and Reynolds once again kicked the conversion.
Tyler Dupree responded for the Bulldogs with a barge to the line from close range in the 15th minute and Luke Hooley tagged on the extras. But it was to prove a temporary reprieve as Thornley scored twice in quick succession to re-establish a handy lead, especially with Reynolds converting both.
It took Leigh 18 minutes of the second half to add to their advantage – Ben Hellewell profiting from a well-timed Reynolds pass. Another two from Reynolds gave Leigh a commanding 30-6 lead. Leigh were over again moments later, this time Adam Higson going in at the corner after a worked move from the scrum. Reynolds once again landed the goal from off the touchline.
In worsening conditions, Leigh found themselves down to 12 men when Sam Brooks was sin-binned for a late challenge and Batley took immediate advantage of the extra man, scoring in the corner through George Senior. It was to prove the final scoring action of the night as the closing stages fizzled out with Leigh safely through to the next round draw which takes place on Monday at 6.30pm on BBC Sport.
Leigh return to Betfred Championship action on Sunday, March 1 when they head to Heywood Road, Sale to take on Swinton Lions.
Leigh: Mullen, Shaw, I Thornley, Sa’u, Higson, Reynolds, Wildie, Gerrard, Hood, Ioane, Hellewell, Glohe, Addy. Subs: Spencer, Thompson, Brooks, Field
Tries: Thornley 2, Hood, Addy, Hellewell, Higson
Goals: Reynolds 6 (from 6 attempts)
Batley: Scott, Reittie, Senior, Galbraith, Campbell, White, Hooley, Dupree, Leak, Everett, Manning, Tomlinson, Blagbrough. Subs: Ward, Taira, Lunt, Lilycrop
Referee: Matthew Rossleigh
Associate Match Sponsors: Estate Agency Signs