Leigh pounce on mistakes as Halifax’s big TV debut ends on a sour note

Halifax Panthers fell to their fifth defeat in six games as Leigh Centurions ran out 26-16 winners at The Shay.

By Seb Sternik
Monday, 21st March 2022, 10:39 pm
Updated Monday, 21st March 2022, 10:40 pm

The Panthers, who were making their Monday night Premier Sports debut, couldn’t capitalise on their early lead as the visitors put on a classy showing in West Yorkshire.

Before the game, Halifax boss Simon Grix underlined the importance of making a good start, and his men certainly delivered as Zack McComb opened the scoring after just seven minutes.

A lot of the credit for the opener will go to James Saltonstall who powered down the right wing and produced a perfectly weighted grubber kick, just moments before being pushed into touch.

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Halifax Panthers

With the ball teetering on Leigh’s tryline, McComb capitalised as he touched down to put his side ahead.

The visitors did create a couple of dangerous opportunities themselves, but when they eventually made the breakthrough, it didn’t come without controversy.

Mark Ioane forced his way over the whitewash after receiving a quick pass from James Bell. However, there were serious question marks over the grounding - concerns highlighted by the Premier Sports cameras. Nevertheless, the try stood and Ben Reynold’s successful conversion moved the Centurions in-front.

Things quickly deteriorated for Halifax who kicked the ball out on the full to further fuel Leigh’s growing momentum.

The visitors made full use of the opportunity as moments later, Nene MacDonald scored Leigh’s second try. There was no controversy on this occasion as Caleb Aekin cleverly drew in the defender and released his teammate down the left.

Reynolds missed the following conversion, which meant Leigh enjoyed a 10-4 lead going into the interval.

Halifax came out fighting in the second half as the team threatened an early breakthrough. However, Leigh weathered the storm and immediately went on the attack themselves.

The visitors shifted the ball out to the right wing with pace as Ed Chamberlain’s pass found Keanan Brand who dived over the tryline in-font of the visiting spectators.

With Leigh enjoying a two-score cushion, Halifax needed a response and they almost got it in the 53rd minute. The visitors were forced all the way back to their own tryline but just as Saltonstall looked to find McComb with an offload, the ball was snapped up by Leigh.

With 20 minutes remaining, the situation continued to deteriorate as Tom Amone found the whitewash. Joe Wardle made the initial break before feeding James Bell down the middle. He then found Amone who proved unstoppable as he powered over. Reynolds converted the effort meaning Leigh moved 22-4 ahead.

In order to stand any chance of a comeback, the Panthers needed to score the next try. Thankfully for Grix’s side, Saltonstall produced the goods after finishing a well worked effort in the right corner.

Joe Keyes converted from the touchline to move his side within 12 points. However, with just 14 minutes remaining, Halifax simply couldn’t afford to concede more points.

Unfortunately for the majority of the two thousands fans at the Shay, Leigh were in no mood for grand stand finales. Instead, Adrian Lam’s side shifted the ball out to Joe Wardle who dived over in the corner to make it 26-10.

Halifax had seven minutes to produce a moment of magic but despite their best efforts, there was to be no last-gap comeback.

Despite this, it was Halifax who had the last say as Lachlan Walmsley finished off a well worked try in the right corner. Keyes’ successful conversion made the full-time score 16-26.

Half-time score: Halifax 4-10 Leigh

Venue: The Shay, Halifax

Match Official: Nick Bennett

Attendance: 2,202