Leigh coast past dispirited Lions

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The Independent Online

Leigh maintained their pursuit of top place in the Northern Ford Premiership yesterday as they made their defeat by Swinton early in the season look like a distant memory.

Unaccountably failing to draw inspiration from having their match sponsored by The Independent, Swinton were a pale shadow of the team that won at Hilton Park, showing all too clearly why they are unlikely to make the top-eight and the play-offs in such a competitive division.

"I can accept being beaten by a better side, but not some of the defending I saw out there," said their coach, Mike Gregory.

The scene was set inside the first minute when the Leigh prop, Andy Leatham, was allowed to charge 40 yards and sell a dummy on the way to the game's first try. It came at a cost, when his collision with the post caused a pelvic injury serious enough for him to be taken to hospital, but from that point on it was Swinton's performance that was out of joint.

A huge gap opened up to allow Paul Anderson to keep up his recent run of try scoring, and Jason Roach's touchdown after he stole the ball from his opposite number, Alan Cross, was a brief interlude for Swinton.

Leigh played some impressive attacking rugby for the rest of the half, with their highly-rated hooker and full-back, Mick Higham and Stuart Donlan, adding further tries and Paul Wingfield kicking six goals from as many attempts.

Leigh went through a sloppy phase at the start of the second half but could, in theory, have allowed a less dispirited team than Swinton to come back.

The Lions did manage one try, through Phil Coussons, but that was enough to rouse Leigh once more. Higham's dart from dummy-half exposed the home defence again for Adam Bristow to score and Wingfield, who finished with nine goals, and Simon Baldwin rounded off a convincing display.

It was a relief for Paul Terzis, who had seen his side beat Batley last week, despite conceding 40 points. "Defensively, it was the best we've played over 80 minutes since I came here," the Leigh coach said. Even he would admit, however, that Swinton asked them few questions of any difficulty.

Swinton Lions: English; Roach, Coussons, Loughlin, Billy; Craig, Watson;Neill, Highton, Knowles, Pickavance,Randall, Smith. Substitutes used: Bateman, Evans, Stazicker, Henare.

Leigh Centurions: Donlan; Wingfield, Anderson, Purtill, Cross; Fairclough, Dean; Street, Higham, Leatham, Baldwin, Cruckshank, Bristow. Substitutes used: Kendrick, Ingram, Whittle, Norman.

Referee: G Shaw (Wigan).