Leigh Centurions 36 Halifax Panthers 0: Leaders end Panthers’ eight-game winning streak

Halifax coach Simon Grix must have been stunned by his side's defeat at Leigh Centurions after the Panthers went into the game on the back of an eight-game winning run.  Image: Bruce Fitzgerald.
Halifax coach Simon Grix must have been stunned by his side’s defeat at Leigh Centurions after the Panthers went into the game on the back of an eight-game winning run. Image: Bruce Fitzgerald.

Simon Grix’s men were given a brutal reality check as Super League Centurions’ chase ran in six unanswered attempts to give the Panthers their first defeat in 76 days.

Half empty Leigh Sports Village stadium may not have given that atmosphere, but this was probably one of the most interesting fixtures of the weekend in the rugby 13 calendar.

Leigh, who along with Featherstone is Championship power, came into the match looking for a tenth straight win. Halifax, in contrast, arrived in Lancashire with an eight-match winning streak of their own.

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Considering there were only six points separating second-placed Centurions and fourth-placed Panthers, there was a great game feeling in the air as both teams came out onto the territory.

Leigh was aware of Fax’s threat and when the first chance to score points came, they took it with both hands.

That opportunity turned out to be a penalty just 10 yards from the Panthers tryline. Leigh’s Krisnan Inu stepped up and cracked off the kick with ease.

After an even 15-minute spell to the game, the opening try later fell in love with the visitors when they capitalized on a Fax error. Ben Tibbs was the culprit when Leigh regained possession and scored down the right flank with Mafoa’aeata Hingano releasing Blake Ferguson.

With half an hour to go, Leigh hit again. In an almost carbon copy of the opening initiative, it was Hingano who found Fergus out wide. On this occasion, however, the 32-year-old cut through the middle before crashing.

The visitors had chances of their own but a combination of errors and Leigh’s impressive defense prevented Halifax from forcing their way over.

Instead, it was the Centurions who won a third effort just moments before the halftime hoof.

Inu, who was the featured performer for the hosts, produced a moment of brilliance as not only did he break the Halifax line deep in his own half, but also pulled off an impressive discharge to further the Centurions. The hosts made 80 yards in the blink of an eye and ended the move with a group kick that landed perfectly for Nene Macdonald.

With Leigh 18-0 up at the halfway mark, Halifax had to get the first blow after the restart to stand a chance of a wonderful comeback.

That, however, was not the case because just six minutes into the second half, Ben Reynolds falsified his way over the white lime.

The Panthers threatened in the 51st minute through Brandon Moore but the hooker was held over the line.

Moments later, Leigh went down to 12 men after Inu cleaned up James Woodburn-Hall with a late challenge.

Despite this, Leigh regrouped and fired two more efforts from Hingan and Macdonald to close out an impressive tenth straight straight victory.

Halifax, who fell to fifth in the table, will now turn their attention to Whitehaven and Barrow on two back-to-back trips to Cumbria.

Leigh Centurions: Caleb Aekins, Blake Ferguson, Ed Chamberlain, Nene Macdonald, Krisnan Inu, Mafoa’aeata Hingano, Ben Reynolds, Adam Sidlow, Aaron Smith, Taealoaloa Amone, Joe Wardle, Sam Stone, John Asiata. Substitutes: Kai O’Donnell, James McDonnell, Ben Nakubuwai, Edwin Ipape.

Leigh Tries: Ferguson (22, 32), Macdonald (38, 71), Reynolds (46), Hingano (59).

Leigh Goals: Inu 5/6, Reynolds 1/1.

Leigh Sin-Bin: Inuo (55 – late gear on Woodburn-Hall).

Halifax Panthers: James Woodburn-Hall, Lachlan Walmsley, Greg Worthington, Ben Tibbs, James Saltonstall, Louis Jouffret, Joe Keyes, Will Calcott, Brandon Moore, Dan Murray, Oliver Roberts, Ben Kavanagh, Adam Tangata. Substitutes: Joe Martin, Titus Gwaze, Kevin Larroyer, Matty Gee.

Location: Leigh Sports Village.

Match Official: Robert Hicks.

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