Rugby League: Pendlebury inspires overdue win: First Division stragglers earn unexpected Regal Trophy success

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Leigh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .20

Huddersfield . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12

GIVEN their contrasting records this season, it almost ranked as a shock that the First Division side beat the team from the Second in this Regal Trophy tie.

Two records went out of the window at Hilton Park yesterday. Leigh had not won a match all season and Huddersfield had won all theirs. That neither side played remotely as you would have expected shows that there remains a perceptible gap between the top of one division and the foot of the other.

Leigh's overdue first success was built upon an excellent second row marriage of opposites between John Pendlebury and Simon Baldwin.

Pendlebury, a veteran of 32, continually confused Huddersfield with his ability to slide past tackles and slip his pass away. Baldwin, just 19 and full of promise for the future, ran with tremendous power and purpose and deservedly shaded his senior colleague in the man of the match vote.

Leigh played intelligent, hard-working rugby from the start and could have had points on the board before Huddersfield opened the scoring after 12 minutes. Basil Richards made a break down the left and when Leigh failed to reorganise in defence, stand- off Brad Davis induced a fatal hesitation by dummying before plunging over for the try.

On previous showings this season, that could have been an early signal of Leigh's inability to withstand serious pressure. Instead, they seized the initiative with some confident and constructive play and thoroughly merited their half-time lead.

Baldwin charged on to a perfectly timed pass from John Gunning for the equalising try and the imposing centre, Simon Booth, turned personal disappointment into relief two minutes before the break.

Booth had allowed himself to be turned on to his back without grounding the ball after he had sidestepped through the Huddersfield defence. A minute later, Gunning, Scott Martin and Dean Hanger gave him another chance and this one was accepted.

Huddersfield got to within two points early in the second half when Greg Pearce's kick eluded Steve Cawley for Ian Thomas to claim his 14th try of the season.

Leigh refused to fold and lovely handling by Stuart Pugsley and Baldwin sent in Paul Rowley. Clarke and Booth then combined to give the substitute, Gareth Pratt, the touchdown that made the match safe.

A late second try from Davis could not make Alex Murphy's return to his old club a happy one. The only nagging thought for Leigh is that, like Salford in their victory over Leeds on Saturday, two First Division points might have been of more long-term value.

Leigh: Hanger; Cawley, Booth, Clarke, Platt (Pratt, 63); Gunning, Pugsley; Costello, Rowley (Daniel, 58), Collier, Pendlebury, Baldwin, Martin.

Huddersfield: Laurence; Thomas, Pickles, Hellewell, Meilham; Davis, Flanagan (Blacker, 40); King, Barnett, Pucill (Richards, 53), Richards (Naidole, 28), Coulter, Pearce.

Referee: D Asquith (York).

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