Leigh 36-10 Featherstone

Leigh set down an early marker as they opened up the Championship season with a handsome victory over last year’s minor premiers Featherstone.

Half-back Jamie Ellis controlled the game from start to finish and his superb kicking kept Featherstone on the back foot for much of the match.

Although Rovers stayed in the game for long periods, it was Mick Nanyn‘s try in the 70th minute that made things sure for Leigh, with the big centre plundering 20 points to get his league campaign up and running in prolific fashion.

Chasing their sixth successive win, following a perfect start in the Northern Rail Cup and Challenge Cup, Leigh applied plenty of early pressure, but had to wait until the tenth minute for their first score when Tom Armstrong took advantage of an overlap to cross.

Featherstone barely got out of their half in the first quarter of the match, and they found themselves 10-0 down when a neat exchange of passes down the left resulted in Nanyn sliding in for the first of his two tries.

But the injury-hit Rovers, who were dealt a further blow when prop Tony Tonks was handed a two-match ban earlier in the week, dug deep after a slow start and got themselves back in to the contest before half time when Zak Hardaker crossed the whitewash, with Liam Finn goaling to make the score 10-6.

However, their hard work was undone when Ellis was allowed in for a soft try before the break after Nanyn had earned a penalty in midfield, giving the Centurions a 16-6 half time advantage.

Despite their superiority for long periods, Leigh were struggling to put Featherstone to bed but a moment of opportunism from winger Dean McGilvray gave them the breathing space they desired.

Scooting at pace from dummy half, McGilvray got behind the markers and then put the burners on to race around Hardaker and find the corner.

But just as they had done against Widnes a fortnight ago, Featherstone started to work their way back in to things, led by Stuart Dickens, and his offload was collected by Ben Kaye, who found Andy Kain in space. Kain weaved through the line before spreading wide to Bryn Powell and the travelling fans sensed a way back in to the game.

The Leigh defence stood firm as Featherstone enjoyed their best spell of the game but the game was all but over as a contest on 68 minutes when Nanyn converted a penalty for 24-10.

With the pressure off, Leigh cut loose in the final ten minutes, Nanyn getting on the end of an Ellis kick which was poorly defended by Rovers, before another Ellis kick bounced up kindly for Stuart Donlan who got his name on the scoresheet with a well taken try.

Rovers boss Daryl Powell will be encouraged by the fact his side were able to keep in the game for long periods, despite being below their best, but Leigh’s growing confidence was evident as they made it six from six as they look to make themselves real contenders for the Championship title.

Leigh (16) 36
Team: Donlan, McGilvray, Nanyn, Armstrong, Maden, Ellis, Ridyard, Hill, Duffy, Mills, Goulden, Littler, Taylor. Subs: Nash, Thornley, Gorski, Govin.
Tries: Armstrong 10; Nanyn 13, 70; Ellis 35; McGilvray 49; Donlan 74;
Goals: Nanyn 13, 35, 49, 68, 70, 74;

Featherstone (6) 10
Team: Hardaker, Powell, Smeaton, Welham, Saxton, Kain, Finn, Dickens, Kaye, Grayshon, Dale, Spears, Worthington. Subs: Williams, Hardman, Muvududu, Pearson.
Tries: Hardaker 32, Powell 56.
Goals: Finn 32.

Referee: M Thomason
AttendanceL 1940

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