Leigh fight Briers? boot and voices of doom

Warrington 26 Leigh 22
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The Independent Online

Leigh came frustratingly close to getting a Super League campaign that everyone is already telling them is doomed off the mark against an unimpressive Warrington.

Leigh came frustratingly close to getting a Super League campaign that everyone is already telling them is doomed off the mark against an unimpressive Warrington.

The newly promoted club played with great enthusiasm at the Halliwell Jones stadium and were deservedly on level terms until the 70th minute, when Jon Clarke went over for his second try of the game. The Centurions were perhaps guilty of thinking the job was done after Ben Cooper stopped the dangerous Martin Gleeson.

Three minutes later, Gleeson's brother, Mark, made a break and sent Lee Briers away for the try that clinched it, although Jason Ferris' kick and chase a minute from time gave Leigh a theoretical chance of coming away with something.

"There were some massive improvements on the performances last week, but I think we should have won today," said the Leigh coach, Darren Abram. "For 40 minutes we were the better team, but we moved a bit away from that in the second half."

The Warrington coach, Paul Cullen, complimented Leigh on "a very, very decent effort".

"They worked extremely hard," he said. "But we had 20 minutes when we couldn't hold the ball."

That came after Warrington had taken an early lead when Briers and Henry Fa'afili set up Clarke for his first try.

Warrington's handling then went to pieces, with glaring individual errors giving Leigh the chance to put two tries on the board.

Warrington were probing near the Leigh line on the last tackle when Fa'afili threw the ball blind to Jason Kent who went 90 metres to score.

Then Brent Grose completely miskicked in his own in-goal area to chip the ball into Rob Smyth's arms.

Three goals from Phil Jones gave Leigh an eight-point lead, but Warrington reduced it before half-time when Clarke and Briers sent Martin Gleeson in for his third try in two games.

It was Briers, and especially his kicking, that turned the game Warrington's way. His kick set up Nat Wood for the try that put the Wolves back in the lead and the accuracy of his boot also steered them around the field and helped to take the initiative away from Leigh.

The usually reliable Jones missed an easy chance to put Leigh level, but then succeeded with a penalty to set up a tight finish.

This effort will give Leigh some confidence for the rest of their programme, starting with next week's meeting with Salford. "I understand we're at the bottom with Bradford and that's not a bad team to be bracketed with," Abram said.

Warrington: Grose; Fa'afili, Martin Gleeson, Kohe-Love, Gaskell; Briers, Wood; Leikvoll, Mark Gleeson, Hilton, Swann, Wainwright, Clarke. Substitutes: Westwood, Lima, Noone, Stevens.

Leigh: Cooper; Wilshere, Jackson, Jones, Smyth; Kent, Duffy; Stapleton, Ferris, Sturm, King, McCurrie, Leafa. Substitutes: Rowley, Henderson, Moore, Knott.

Referee: Steve Danson (St Helens).

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