Anderson too hot for Oldham

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The Independent Online

Two first-half tries from Paul Anderson, one of their players with Super League credentials, steered Leigh towards a Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final meeting with Dewsbury.

Two first-half tries from Paul Anderson, one of their players with Super League credentials, steered Leigh towards a Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final meeting with Dewsbury.

The former St Helens and Sheffield player gave Leigh, playing in front of their biggest crowd for years, an advantage they never lost, although Oldham kept battling until the end.

Leigh's smothering defence was also preventing Oldham's pack from building up any momentum, just denying their player-coach, Mike Ford, any room in which to work.

Liam Bretherton kicked his side further ahead from a penalty awarded for offside as Oldham's exertions last week - they were playing a full match plus extra-time while Leigh had the weekend off - continued to catch up with them.

Oldham needed something to revive them and they got it when Ford's high kick bounced kindly for Warren Barrow to squeeze in at the corner.

They had another golden opportunity after that, but fumbled the ball on the first tackle after a scrum near the Leigh line. Oldham were soon made to pay; Stuart Donlan's run from deep set up the position and the outstanding Adam Bristow ploughed over.

With four minutes remaining, David Gibbons scooped up a loose goal to go 75 yards, rather too late in the day for Oldham. An eight-point cushion was comfortable enough for Leigh; all they have to do now is make plain their mastery over Dewsbury at Bury onSaturday by beating them for the fourth time this season.

It was Anderson who gave Leigh control of the first half after Oldham looked promising in the early minutes. After twice choosing to run rather than kick from penalties, the home side steadily built up the pressure until, after Alan Cross had been stopped in front of the sticks, Mick Higham and Bretherton moved the ball smartly to the right, where Anderson was too fast and too strong for the Oldham defence.

Five minutes later, he was over again, Bretherton's break and Kieron Purtill's pass this time giving him the glimpse of the line that was all he needed.

Bretherton, on loan from Wigan, landed the conversion, plus a penalty after Pat Rich was guilty of a high tackle on Higham, and Leigh were on their way.

With Bristow, running the show in the middle of the field, they were now looking dangerous whenever they attacked and could have had at least one more try before half-time, Cross going over only to be called back for Heath Cruickshank's obstruction at the play-the-ball.

Leigh Centurions: Donlan; A Cross, Anderson, Fairclough, Ingram, Bretherton, Purtill, Street, Higham, Whittle, Cruickshank, Kendrick, Bristow. Substitutes used: Bowker, Norman, Leatham, Arkwright.

Oldham: Sibson; McNicholas, D Cross, Rich, Barrow, D Gibbons, Ford, Molloy, Hough, Proctor, Farrell, McMenemy, Mannion. Substitutes used: Rogers, Clegg, Guest, Sinfield.

Referee: S Cummings (Widnes).

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