The London Broncos mounted an incredible comeback to return within four points of a 26 point deficit, but it just wasn’t quite enough on Saturday evening at the LSV.
An incredibly close contest for the first half, the score was still a level 8 a piece after 39 minutes. Leigh were first on the score board, when they opted to kick for the two penalty points and Ridyard’s kick sailed straight through the uprights. The Broncos soon followed suit, and Soward added two to London’s tally after a second penalty kick.
Matty Dawson scored the first of his two just after the 20 minute mark, going over in the corner. Ridyard dutifully added the extras.
London hit back a short six minutes later, when a superb effort from Ben Hellewell saw him barge over the whitewash unaided. Soward added the extras, and the scores were once again level.
A tight game, tensions were high, and Paterson was sin binned for a high tackle on Alex Walker.
At 39 minutes, the Centurions pulled away – Mitch Brown scored the first of a soon to be four unanswered tries, quickly followed by a four pointer from Maitua, and braces for both Brown and Dawson.
With less than ten minutes on the clock Pewhairangi barged his way over the line, shortly followed by his second – causing tempers to flare. A melee erupted over the line, and resulted in early showers for Soward and Worthington, who both received red cards.
The Broncos turned on the gas in the dying minutes; Andy Ackers found a gaping hole in Leigh’s line to drive his way over, and Jack Bussey made an incredible break to set Daniel Harrison up to cross under the posts.
Pewhairangi converted as the siren sounded, stopping London’s magnificent comeback a mere four points short, on a final score of 34-30.
Speaking after the game, head coach, Andrew Henderson, was very pleased with his side’s ability to rally in the tougher moments.
“Proud of the players effort, attitude and commitment, as we competed hard today. It was an even first half, and we were unfortunate to be behind at half time,” said Henderson.
“The reality, however, is we didn’t start the second half well enough.
“We surrendered possession early, and conceded too many penalties which gifted Leigh field position, and they capitalised.
“The boys got back in the arm wrestle after going 12 points down, but a crucial unforced error on our goal line proved to be a game breaker as Leigh pulled away.
“With 12 minutes to go, the 34-8 score line wasn’t a true reflection of the game. The contest had been a lot closer than the score line suggested. The team showed immense character to finish the stronger of the two teams, bearing in mind, Leigh had a 100% completion rate in the second half, and we were running at 55%, before mounting a momentous comeback – scoring four tries in five or six minutes.
“Who knows, if there had been a few more minutes on the clock we may have snatched it.
“What today highlights, is we can compete with the best teams at this level, as Leigh are a Super League team in my eyes with the squad they possess.
“It’s important that we hold on to the attitude, energy and commitment that we showed today. We will work hard to maintain this and fix up a few areas we need to work on.
“I believe this team still has a good chance in the Qualifiers. Promotion isn’t decided after round one.
“We must bounce back this week, and show we are a genuine contender in this compeition.”
Leigh Centurions: Gregg McNally, Adam Higson, Greg Worthington, Mitch Brown, Matty Dawson, Martyn Ridyard, Josh Drinkwater, Fuifui Moimoi, Micky Higham, Dayne Weston, Reni Maitua, Corey Paterson, Gareth Hock
Interchange: Ben Reynolds, Jamie Acton, Danny Tickle, Harrison Hansen
Tries: Dawson (22, 66), Brown (39,66), Maitua (46)
Goals: Ridyard 7/7
London Broncos: Alex Walker, Rhys Williams, Ben Hellewell, Elliot Kear, Iliess Macani, Api Pewhairangi, Jamie Soward, Nick Slyney, Andy Ackers, Mark Ioane, Daniel Harrison, Matt Garside, Jack Bussey
Interchange: James Cunningham, Jon Magrin, Jamie Thackray, Eddie Battye
Tries: Hellewell (28), Pewhairangi (76, 77), Ackers (78), Harrison (79)
Goals: Soward 2/3, Pewhairangi 3/4