Leigh Centurions 26 Wakefield Trinity 18: Revival ends as relegated club fight back to secure well-earned Super League win
Wakefield Trinity's resurgence under interim-coach Willie Poching came to a shuddering halt when they were beaten 26-18 at already-relegated Leigh Centurions this afternoon (Sunday).
It was Leigh’s second success of a dismal Betfred Super League campaign and they thoroughly deserved it, against a Trinity side who had won four of their previous five games since Poching took charge last month.
The home team finished the game with only 11 players, after two sin-binnings inside the last 10 minutes, but some spirited defence kept Wakefield out.
Club owner Derek Beaumont gave Leigh’s players a roasting in the match programme, accusing them of - among other things - surrendering in their Magic Weekend loss to Hull KR and failing to support a charity bike ride he took part in from Leigh to Newcastle.
And the final 40 minutes was delayed slightly after an injury to Leigh substitute Nathan Mason who was hurt on the final play of the opening period and needed treatment throughout the interval before being taken off the field on a stretcher. The incident was placed on report.
The hosts started both halves in explosive fashion, leading 10-0 after 15 minutes and wiping out Trinity’s eight-point interval advantage before the hour mark. Wakefield came back easily the first time, but couldn’t register a point in the second stanza.
Tries by Adam Sidlow and the first of a hat-trick from Ryan Brierley - who also booted three conversions - rattled Trinity early on, but Wakefield came up with an impressive response, going ahead within nine minutes of the hosts’ second touchdown.
Reece Lyne kick-started the fightback with an extraordinary try, putting boot to ball twice - the second a lovely chip over full-back Brierley - before gathering to touch down.
Moments later, Kelepi Tanginoa ran through from Jacob Miller’s pass and then Brierley spilled Mason Lino’s high kick and in the resulting set Dave Fifita rumbled his way over the line and Lino’s third goal made it 18-10.
Wakefield should have gone further ahead when Lee Kershaw sliced through into space with Lyne in support.
To the centre’s clear frustration, Kershaw held on - but then turned the ball to James Batchelor who surged to the line, looked like he could score himself, but instead off-loaded to Lyne a metre out - and he dropped it.
Kershaw has been very good for Trinity this year but, moments later, he was hurt in a big hit and had to be helped off the field.
Ex-Leigh player Liam Kay, who had started at hooker, moved on to the right flank.
Leigh cut the gap just seconds after half-time when Iain Thornley made a break down the left and Brierley was in support to score his second.
Batchelor had a touchdown ruled out for a double-movement and Wakefield were behind for the second time when Brierley completed his hat-trick and added the extras with 22 minutes left, though Sam Stone’s pass looked forward.
Kay, for a forward pass, though Trinity received a penalty from it, and Batchelor, after an obstruction, had tries disallowed in quick succession and, soon afterwards, Leigh went two scores clear as Stone snatched a high kick from Ryan Hampshire’s grasp and stretched over.
Centurions were reduced to 12 men when Rob Butler was sin-binned for a foul on Chris Green and then Brierley followed him for a professional foul after a try-saving tackle on Lyne, moments after the full-back had kept Innes Senior out brilliantly.
Leigh Centurions: Brierley, Elliot, Thornley, Hellewell, Logan, Bell, Mellor, Sidlow, Hood, Butler, Stone, Thompson, Whitbread. Subs: Ashworth, Mason, Gerrard, Ellis.
Wakefield Trinity: Hampshire, Kershaw, Lyne, Arundel, Senior, Miller, Lino, Green. Kay, Battye, Batchelor, Tanginoa, Crowther. Subs: K Wood, Arona, B Walker, Fifita.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).