Leigh Centurions 32
Halifax’s hopes of catching Featherstone for the league leaders Shield are hanging by a thread after they were beaten by Leigh for the fourth time this season.
Karl Harrison’s side picked up a bonus point, but it is Daryl Powell’s Rovers who will seal top spot if they pick up just a point from their final game at home to Keighley early next month.
And Fax now face a battle with last night’s winners, who still have two home games to play, to claim second spot.
Fax could hardly have made a worse start at the Leigh Sports Village as they sent the kick off sailing over the deadball line on the full, before conceding a penalty five metres from their own line.
And former Fax man Bob Beswick made the most of the opportunity by dummying over from close range.
There was further pressure on the Fax line after 10 minutes when Rob Worrincy hammered a Beswick grubber dead for a goalline drop out.
And, after Beswick had combined with Martin Ridyard, full back Greg McNally joined the line to bag the home side’s second try.
Not until the 13th minute did Fax enjoy any really good possession in the Leigh half after Jonathan Pownall fumbled, then grounded a Paul Handforth grubber.
The home side were offside at the goalline drop out but, after Dane Manning had driven in hard, Sean Penkywicz knocked on and the chance had gone.
They were soon back on the attack thanks to a 16th-minute penalty and Sam Barlow made his presence felt as he crashed over with his first carry of the ball.
And two minutes later Handforth broke on the right and sent the supporting Ryan Fieldhouse over next to the posts.
Steve Tyrer’s second conversion of the match put Fax in front, but they were only ahead for a matter of minutes as their defence let them down again and Ridyard was able to sneak over next to the posts before converting for 16-12.
Fax appeared to be hard done by close to half time when, having forced Tommy Goulden back into play as he tried to lunge over, a Leigh player appeared to knock on.
But referee Tim Roby was happy and a couple of penalties piled the pressure on the defence which cracked again, allowing Stuart Littler to crash over.
After a frantic opening to the second half in which both sides threw the ball round freely, Fax reduced the arrears with a 48th minute Rob Worrincy try which came at the end of some good forward play from Ben Heaton and Tony Tonks who was held inches short.
Tyrer’s touchline conversion, which shaved the inside of the left hand upright made it 20-18.
Fax followed up the try by forcing a couple of goalline drop outs in quick succession but were left frustrated when Tonks knocked on 10 metres from the line under pressure.
Fieldhouses’s failure to collect Ridyard’s 59th-minute bomb put Fax back on the back foot.
They survived but not for long as Ridyard bagged his second try of the game and added the conversion to make it 26-18.
Callum Casey twice went close to setting up tries for Fax, first from the restart, but Luke Ambler was held up over the line, then from a break after a tremendous pick up, but Lee Paterson was unable to get over.
They got back to within a couple of points with seven to go when Paul White scorched in from 40 metres out and Tyrer goaled to make it 26-24.
But hopes of victory were ended three minutes later when Kevin Henderson went through a big gap and Ryan Brierley was on hand to touch down.
Ridyard goaled and Worrincy’s late score in the corner was little consolation.
Leigh: Greg McNally; Steve Maden, Stuart Littler, Matt Gardner, Jonathan Pownall; Martin Ridyard, Bob Beswick; Michael Ostick, Anthony Nicholson, Tom Spencer, Craig Briscoe, Tommy Goulden, Sam Hopkins. Subs: Ryan Brierley, Kevin Henderson, Andy Thornley, James Taylor
Tries: Beswick 2, McNally 10, Ridyard 23, 64, Littler 36, Brierley 77
Goals: Ridyard 4
Halifax: Ryan Fieldhouse; Rob Worrincy, Ste Tyrer, Lee Patterson, Paul White; Paul Handforth, Anthony Thackeray; Tony Tonks, Sean Penkywicz, Sean Hesketh, Dane Manning, Ben Heaton, Luke Ambler. Subs: Callum Casey, Craig Ashall, Sam Barlow, Makali Aizue
Tries: Barlow 17, Fieldhouse 19, Worrincy 48, 80 White 73
Goals: Tyrer 4
Referee: Tim Roby