A heavyweight Betfred Championship clash saw Toronto edge out Leigh with some late sparkle, although there was last minute drama for Ben Reynolds, who couldn’t convert a penalty after the hooter to earn a draw.
Leigh made the perfect start to an imperfect game. Ben Reynolds sent a kick left and Toronto lost the ball, allowing Nathan Mason to ground for the first try after three minutes. Reynolds goaled and Leigh led 6-0.
The Centurions had another opportunity after a Sam Hopkins high shot conceded a penalty but couldn’t force home their advantage.
Leigh kept up the tempo, with a high kick taken by Jack Owens ahead of Matty Russell. Somehow he slipped the ball out and Craig Hall chased hard fto force a drop out. Despite some confident approach work, Leigh lost the ball and Toronto attacked from yardage. Jake Emmitt and Olsi Krasiqi tried to soak some juice from the Leigh forwards and after nine minutes Ryan Brierley was felled by Harrison Hansen, a second penalty followed and Cory Parerson almost stretched over before Josh McCrone nipped in a couple of tackles later on the left. Brierley goaled to bring the sides together at 6-all after eleven minutes.
Just as Toronto were gaining traction Liam Kay was forced out of play by Matty Dawson-Jones.
For the next five minutes Toronto dominated with Leigh struggling to complete their sets. Wolfpack went down the Leigh left with Gareth O’Brien seeing a decision referred upstairs. After numerous views, no try was the call, and a knock on over the line was the decision.
Scrappy play from the Centurions saw them give up possession on the Wolfpack twenty after eighteen minutes. Once more Toroto made good ground with Ashton Sims and Russll combining. A huge kick from McCorne was expertly taken by Peter Mata’utia.
A penalty later and Leigh were knocking on the door again. After testing Toronto’s resolve, a quick switch down the Leigh right saw Ben Crooks pierce the line and touch down. Reynolds couldn’t goal but Leigh led 10-6.
Although Jordan Thomspson came up with an error, Toronto couldn’t take advantage with Russell knocking on, but the errors continued with Jamie Acton fumbling in the 25th minute.
Gareth O’Brien spilled a high kick and Leigh kept up the pressure, winning a penalty. Leigh marched under the posts after Drew Hutchison cleverly held the ball long enough for Acton to run a fine line. Reynolds goaled and it was 16-6.
Hansen won a penalty but some sloppy hands from Hall invited Toronto back onto them. Toronto kicked long for Kay but the ball beat everyone to touch.
It was tense with mistakes from both teams. Leigh were pinned in their own half for a while and Liam Kay came up with some battling plays for the Wolfpack with Leigh just holding the edge at halftime.
Two minutes into the new half Toronto got the first try with a smart move down the left with Gareth O’Brien touching down. Brierley goaled to put the game back in the melting pot – 16-12.
Leigh reaffirmed their advantage after a positive set that started when Jack Owens collected Brierley’s high kick. Reynolds broke from his own half and then Ben Crooks somehow found his way over for a second try after taking Hutchison’s cross field kick. Reynolds added his third goal to hoist the score to 22-12.
Leigh were looking more poised and this told on the Toronto line with Craig Hall getting his pass out for Jack Owens to dive in at the corner for the Centurions fifth try of the game. Reynolds couldn’t goal but the Leigh advantage was 26-12 with 22 minutes remaining and little indication of the drama to follow.
Brierley forced a drop out for Toronto on the hour and Leigh held them out, although Acton couldn’t hang onto the ball in centre field.
Nick Rawsthorne punished Leigh seconds later with an excellent finish and although Brierley couldn’t convert Wolfpack were down by ten points with fifteen minutes left. Toronto were on the front foot and scored again near the posts through Krasniqi. Breirley goaled and it was defeinitely game on – 26-22.
Into the last ten minutes the tension began to rise again. Kay made good ground and Wolfpack forced a drop out before almost scoring out on the right. A high tackle took Russell out of the equation and Peter Mata’utia was sinbinned. The Wolfpack blew a chance within a minute, ignoring Kay on the left, instead opting to go to Russell with a high pass.
Next Hutchison kicked for Craig Hall and Rawsthorne went sixty metres. Hutchison chased back to deny him but a big switch down the left saw Cory Paterson get the ball down and Brierley goaled to put Toronto in front for the first time.
Leigh went short with the restart and the ball went over the touchline, resulting in posession for the Centurions. Reynolds went high on the last tackle with Greg Worthington emerging with possession.
Ackers then gave a penalty away for tripping his marker and with the final kick of the game Ben Reynolds couldn’t goal from thirty metres with Toronto winning a thriller, 26-28.
Toronto: Gareth O’Brien, Matty Russell, Greg Worthington, Nick Rawsthorne, Liam Kay; Josh McCrone, Ryan Brierley; Jake Emmitt, Bob Beswick, Sam Hopkins, Andrew Dixon, Cory Paterson, Olsi Krasniqi. Subs: Ashton Sims, Jack Buchanan, Adam Sidlow, Andy Ackers.
Leigh: Peter Mata’utia, Matty Dawson-Jones, Ben Crooks, Craig Hall, Jack Owens; Ben Reynolds, Drew Hutchison; Ryan Bailey, Micky Higham, Nathan Mason, Harrison Hansen, Bodene Thompson, Jordan Thompson. Subs: Liam Hood, Gref Richards, Jordan Baldwinson, Jamie Acton