Leigh beat the National League One leaders for the second time in three weeks yesterday, but rivals hoping to deny Hull Kingston Rovers promotion to Super League would be well advised not to read too much into this latest scoreline.
With his side's recent workload in mind, Rovers' coach, Justin Morgan, chose to field only seven of last week's squad from the Challenge Cup semi-final and a mere four who lost to Leigh in the final of the Northern Rail Cup last month.
Morgan insisted afterwards that he had no regrets over his policy. "We had 10 kids under 21 out there and I can't fault their efforts," he said. "Half a dozen could have played but they are carrying injuries and this was an opportunity to have a bit of a breather."
Despite the unfamiliar line-up, Rovers took an early lead through Kris Welham, one of a pair of brothers making their first-team debuts on the wings.
It could not last, and Leigh were soon in front through Scott Grix and Mike Govin. The Rovers prop Jon Fallon was then sent to the sin-bin for a second high tackle and within three minutes Leigh had scored twice, through Aaron Heremaia and Carl Forber.
Heremaia got his second try soon after the break, with Govin's goal-kicking remaining perfect. The departure of Govin and Lee Greenwood to the sin-bin after separate incidents could not hinder Leigh.
Their handling when reduced to 11 men showed that whatever Rovers thought of it this was a match that mattered, and Leigh even managed to go further ahead through Dana Wilson. Phil Joseph got one back for Rovers in injury time, but in the context of their season this was a game to put down to experience.
"I won't hesitate to do the same thing again," said Morgan. "We are top of the table. We can do what we want."
Leigh: Grix; Halliwell, Forber, Pemberton, Greenwood; Govin, Heremaia; Bibey, Rowley, Hargreaves, Taylor, Hill, Roberts. Substitutes used: Sykes, Roden, Dana Wilson, Stevens.
Hull Kingston Rovers: Rivett; L Welham, Couturier, Whittle, K Welham; Joseph, Brooks; Garmston, Ellis, Fallon, K Netherton, Barker, Weismer. Substitutes used: Gommersall, Steel, Dave Wilson, J Netherton.
Referee: B Thaler (Castleford).
* Rochdale pulled off a surprise 31-18 win over Widnes, who drop to third place. It was only the Vikings' second home defeat of the season but the Hornets deserved their victory, with Kevin King collecting 12 points.Reuse content