Widnes . . .25
TWO tries early in the second half from Steve McCurrie, the Great Britain Under-21 captain, steered Widnes to victory last night despite a poor performance and left a brave Leigh still without a Championship win this season, writes Dave Hadfield.
Leigh's last league victory was over Widnes in March, against a club who have lost yet another of last season's Challenge Cup final side with the sale of Harvey Howard to Leeds this week, and the prospect of a repeat almost 10 months later seemed to recede early in the game.
Glynn Davies, in the last match of his loan from St Helens, dropped the ball in his own 25 and Christian Tyrer's pass sent Paul Moriarty over for a try which Tyrer converted.
Leigh might not have been winning matches, but they have regularly shown themselves to be capable of putting up a considerable fight. Their veteran second row, John Pendlebury, showed them the way by creating a try for Dean Hanger with a clever short kick through a Widnes defence caught unawares.
Widnes, with a depressing run of their own after four successive defeats, looked far from impressive and a missed penalty by Tyrer from a simple position in front of the posts was a luxury they could not afford.
Icy conditions did not help handling and from dropped pass by Widnes, John Costello picked up and swift handling by Paul Rowley and Scott Martin sent Gareth Pratt in for a try which was splendidly improved by Davies.
A half-time lead was no more than Leigh deserved for their greater willingness to come to terms with a hard and uninviting pitch on an increasingly bitter night.
Leigh have a sorry record of letting matches slip after the break, however, and they let McCurrie barge over from dummy half to equalise three minutes into the second half.
After Leigh had wasted a good chance near the line, McCurrie struck again six minutes later, finishing off a run by Esene Faimalo, during the course of which he had the number ripped from his back.
Leigh knew that for all their early efforts they were staring at yet another defeat when Karle Hammond went 30 yards for a solo try, Bobby Goulding adding a fine goal.
Leigh would not surrender, though, and Simon Baldwin's basketball style pass created a try for Andy Cheetham. But Goulding's drop goal edged Widnes closer to the winning post before a try in the last minute from Adrian Hadley gave then a flattering winning margin.
Leigh: Davies; Cheetham, Warburton, Hanger, Pratt; Martin, Maloney; Hansen, Rowley, Costello (Collier, 60), Pendlebury, Meadows (Booth, 75), Baldwin.
Widnes: Spruce; Myers, Devereux, Hammond, Hadley; Tyrer (Sarsfield, 75), Goulding; Smith, McCurrie, Faimalo, Moriarty, Davidson, Harris.
Referee R Connolly (Wigan).