Four tries in sixteen minutes, including a five minute hat-trick turned this game on its head, ensuring the Tigers had a comfortable afternoon at Leigh Sports Village, eventually winning 38-0.
Leigh tried hard and were held up over the line a number of times, but couldn’t find enough to claim points at crucial times and must go away and regroup.
Three minutes in, Leigh stretched the defence but Gregg McNally’s pass was deemed to have been knocked on.
As Leigh moved into the Castleford half on their next carry a collision between Glenn Stewart and Adam Milner stopped pay with the experienced Australian led off for a concussion assessment, with Danny Tickle replacing him.
Seconds later Liam Hood sent Atelea Vea to the line. The decision was sent up to video referee Robert Hicks and correctly ruled out as a knock on.
Leigh continued their industrious start with Lachlan Burr making a half break but Josh Drinkwater’s kick sailed into the arms of Greg Minikin.
Castleford came at the Centurions but on the last tackle Luke Gale’s ambitious chip brought a mistake.
Jesse Sene-Lefao came up with an excellent tackle and there was confusion when Liam Hood was deemed to have knocked on from Corey Paterson’s run and offload. The Tigers couldn’t make anything of that attack, losing possession in the tenth minute.
Leigh were playing with confidence and the Tigers scrambled before recovering to kick the ball into the Centurions’ twenty metre area.
A smart kick and chase from Ben Reynolds pinned Zak Hardaker inside his ten metre area but fast play saw the Tigers break away from their own line and Sene-Lefao kicked forward and then supported Luke Gale to open Castleford’s account after 15 minutes. Gale goaled to make it 6-0 in favour of the Tigers.
Eighteen minutes in Matty Dawson was adjudged to have knocked the ball down in a challenge on Michael Shenton. It gave the Tigers more good position with Nathan Massey running strongly before Castleford created space and Greg Eden knocked on.
A driving tackle by Ben Roberts kept Leigh back before Ben Crooks forced an error from Hardaker. Tickle drove strongly but it was Leigh’s turn to lose the ball through Reynolds and the Centurions compounded the error in conceding a penalty.
The Tigers pushed within range and Sene-Lafao got in from Paul McShane’s clever distribution for a second try. Once again Gale succeeded with the boot and Castleford led 12-0.
It was this stage Leigh introduced their French connection with both Eloi Pelissier and Antoni Maria taking the field.
Another Castleford penalty took them to the edge of the Leigh twenty again and the Tigers came right only for Roberts ball to go forward.
Mitch Brown went close to a try for the Centurions after 28 minutes and a penalty gave Leigh chance to run again. Pelissier thought he had scored but the decision was sent upstairs as no try and it was harshly disallowed for obstruction.
Inside the last ten minutes of the half, Castleford rolled forward again and Leigh muscled up to hold Hardaker at bay and then force an error on the next play from Shenton.
Fleming lost the ball on the first tackle to give Castleford another chance and although Leigh scrambled the ball worked wide for Greg Eden despite an apparently try saving play by Reynolds. Once more Chris Kendall went to video referee Hicks with the original decision of no try. On review the try stood for Eden but Gale missed the goal kick.
It was 16-0 to Castleford with five minutes of the first half remaining. Leigh were penalised for a ball steal, again inviting the Tigers inside their twenty. Swift passing left again brought a try for Eden who skirted around the outside of the defence for his second try. That made it 20-0 with Gale’s brilliant conversion from the touchline making it 22-0.
Gale then sent Shenton through a wide gap and the skipper turned the ball for Eden to dash in after 38 minutes, completing a five minute true hat-trick for the on form wing man. Gale’s fourth goal made it 28-0 with the game being taken away from the Centurions in that blistering spell and that’s how it remained at half-time.
It was Eden’s fourth hat-trick in four games.
Early in the new half Castleford were penalised for a shoulder charge on Drinkwater but Leigh couldn’t take advantage. McShane was then penalised for holding down Fleming and Maria was held up over the line. Excellent work from Minikin cleared a potentially tricky Drinkwater kick and the Tigers surged forward again.
On 47 minutes Ben Crooks was sin-binned for his part in a tackle that forced Matt Cook from the field. Within seconds Eden dived in at the corner for his fourth try of the game. This time Gale couldn’t convert but Castleford were sitting on a 32-0 lead. Milner was then injured and forced from the field.
54 minutes in Leigh got close again with Acton knocking on over the line. Castleford moved into attack mode quickly and Gale was spun over on his back. Still in dangerous position Jake Webster roared back on the inside from Roberts pass for the Tigers seventh try. Gale moved the scoreline on to 38-0 via the posts with twenty-two minutes remaining.
By this stage Castleford were confident and Leigh had it all to do to keep the Tigers at bay. A rare attack by Leigh saw them come down the ground through Pelissier, Vea and Sam Hopkins but the defence held firm at the crucial moment.
Hardaker saved a 40-20 attempt from Reynolds and Leigh enjoyed some much needed possession over the next five minutes but still couldn’t find a way through.
With ten minutes remaining Paterson was held up over the line and Tickle saw the same thing happen to him.
Castleford responded with Minikin going thirty metres. Crooks tracked back but the tackle was high.
As the clock ticked down so did Leigh execution as Paterson tried to release Dawson only for the former Saints man to see the ball slip from his grasp.
There was no doubt the Centurions had competed in the second half but Castleford were determined to keep a clean sheet and forced Crooks over the touchline in the 76th minute.
Heading into the last few seconds Leigh forced an error from man of the moment Eden and reached the line again through Hopkins but he was held up and the Tigers had their clean sheet.
Leigh: Gregg McNally, Matty Dawson, Ben Crooks, Matty Fleming, Mitch Brown; Ben Reynolds, Josh Drinkwater; Jamie Acton, Liam Hood, Lachlan Burr, Cory Paterson, Atelea Vea, Glenn Stewart. Subs: Eloi Pelissier, Danny Tickle, Antoni Maria, Sam Hopkins.
Castleford: Zak Hardaker, Greg Minikin, Jake Webster, Michael Shenton, Greg Eden; Ben Roberts, Luke Gale; Grant Millington, Paul McShane, Nathan Massey, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Mike McMeeken, Adam Milner. Subs: Junior Moors, Matt Cok, Tom Holmes, Kevin Larroyer.
Referee: Chris Kendall.