Leigh Centurions 36 Halifax Panthers 0: Leaders end Panthers’ eight-match winning streak

Halifax Panthers’ eight-match winning streak came to a screeching halt following an emphatic 36-0 thumping away at Leigh.

By Sebastian Sternik
Sunday, 5th June 2022, 8:03 pm
Halifax coach Simon Grix must have been stunned by his side's defeat at Leigh Centurions after the Panthers had gone into the game on the back of an eight-match winning run. Picture: Bruce Fitzgerald.
Halifax coach Simon Grix must have been stunned by his side's defeat at Leigh Centurions after the Panthers had gone into the game on the back of an eight-match winning run. Picture: Bruce Fitzgerald.

Simon Grix’s men were handed a brutal reality check as Super League chasing Centurions ran in six unanswered tries to hand the Panthers their first defeat in 76 days.

The half empty Leigh Sports Village stadium may not have given off that vibe, but this was arguably one of the most intriguing fixtures of the weekend on the rugby league calendar.

Leigh, who alongside Featherstone are a Championship powerhouse, came into the match looking for a tenth straight win. Halifax, in contrast, arrived in Lancashire with an eight-match winning streak of their own.

Considering there were only six points separating second-placed Centurions and fourth-placed Panthers, there was a big-match feel in the air as both teams came out onto the turf.

Leigh were aware of Fax’s threat and when the first opportunity to score points arrived, they took it with both hands.

That opportunity turned out to be a penalty just 10 metres away from the Panthers tryline. Leigh’s Krisnan Inu stepped up and slotted away the kick with ease.

After an even 15 minute spell to the game, the opening try eventually fell for the visitors as they capitalised on a Fax error. Ben Tibbs was the culprit as Leigh regained possession and scored down the right flank with Mafoa’aeata Hingano unleashing Blake Ferguson.

With half-an-hour gone, Leigh hit again. In almost a carbon copy of the opening effort, it was Hingano who found Ferguson out wide. On this occasion though, the 32-year-old cut through the middle before crashing over.

The visitors did have opportunities of their own but a combination of errors and Leigh’s impressive defence prevented Halifax from forcing their way over.

Instead, it was the Centurions who scored a third effort just moments before the half-time hooter.

Inu, who was the standout performer for the hosts, produced a moment of brilliance as not only did he break the Halifax line deep in his own half, but also pulled off an impressive off-load to keep the Centurions going. The hosts made 80metres in a blink of an eye and finished the move with a grubber kick which landed perfectly for Nene Macdonald.

With Leigh 18-0 up at the halfway mark, Halifax needed to land the first blow after the restart in order to stand a chance of a stunning comeback.

That, however, was not the case as just six minutes into the second-half, Ben Reynolds dummied his way over the whitewash.

The Panthers threatened in the 51st minute through Brandon Moore but the hooker was held-up over the line.

Moments later, Leigh went down to 12-men after Inu cleaned out James Woodburn-Hall with a late challenge.

Despite this, Leigh regrouped and fired off two more efforts from Hingano and Macdonald to close out an impressive tenth straight victory.

Halifax, who dropped to fifth in the table, will now turn their attention to Whitehaven and Barrow in two back-to-back trips to Cumbria.

Leigh Centurions: Caleb Aekins, Blake Ferguson, Ed Chamberlain, Nene Macdonald, Krisnan Inu, Mafoa’aeata Hingano, Ben Reynolds, Adam Sidlow, Aaron Smith, Taealoaloa Amone, Joe Wardle, Sam Stone, John Asiata. Subs: Kai O’Donnell, James McDonnell, Ben Nakubuwai, Edwin Ipape.

Leigh Tries: Ferguson (22, 32), Macdonald (38, 71), Reynolds (46), Hingano (59).

Leigh Goals: Inu 5/6, Reynolds 1/1.

Leigh Sin-Bin: Inu (55 – late tackle on Woodburn-Hall).

Halifax Panthers: James Woodburn-Hall, Lachlan Walmsley, Greg Worthington, Ben Tibbs, James Saltonstall, Louis Jouffret, Joe Keyes, Will Calcott, Brandon Moore, Dan Murray, Oliver Roberts, Ben Kavanagh, Adam Tangata. Subs: Joe Martin, Titus Gwaze, Kevin Larroyer, Matty Gee.

Attendance: 3,132.

Venue: Leigh Sports Village.

Match Official: Robert Hicks.