Leigh Centurions eased their relegation worries with a hard-earned 26-6 victory over a tough Toulouse Olympique outfit at the Sports Village.
Leigh took an early 12-0 lead on the back of Toulouse’s patchy start,with errors costing the visitors field position and position. But once Olympique settled to the task they more than matched the home side and deservedly snatched a try on the stroke of half time and set-up a tense second stanza.
Two second half Mort penalties extended the Centurions lead as Olympique continued to match the Centurions blow for blow, with two late tries sealing victory.
The Centurions are aiming bigger than third bottom of the Co-operative Championship and followed up the recent capture of Robbie Paul by announcing at half time that they had secured the services of old-boy, Rickey Bibey on a three-year contract.
Yet they still have work to do to remain in the Championship next season and although this win gives them a four point advantage over Gateshead Thunder, their visit to Tyneside next weekend will be crucial.
Toulouse meanwhile have compiled a creditable first season in the Championship, despite getting a total ass-kicking by Widnes Vikings on opening night (70-0). However, six losses in their last seven outings suggest the higher level of football is taking its toll on them and this defeat casts reqal doubt over their playoff chances. place.
Leigh took an early lead with centre, David Alstead, celebrating his return to action by forcing his way over from close range. Ian Mort converted.
They were quick to capitalise on an error by Olympique fullback, Roy Bromley, who fumbled Tom Heminghway’s speculative kick into the 20. Leigh worked the ball to left with Watson chipping to the corner and Nikii Stanton diving in to score. Mort’s touchline conversion opened a double digit lead.
But despite their patchy start Olympique signalled their attacking potential, creating two clear cut chances to match Leigh’s tries, with only poor handling keeping them off the scoreboard.
The introduction of Antoni Maria from the bench coupled with the work rate of Sylvan Houles helped to solidify the shaky Olympique defence, with the pair putting in some hefty tackles to rouse the hackles of the Leigh faithful in the stands.
And the visitors were rewarded for their efforts on the stroke of half time, Damien Couturier scything through the Centurions defence from inside the 20 to touchdown between the posts. Nathan Wynn’s conversion set-up an interesting second half.
Referee, Ray Hicks turned an ankle during the first half and was replaced at half time by Gordon Wallace (Cumbria).
The second half was a tight affair with the big Olympique pack taking on the Centurion six. Despite a lion’s share of the possession Leigh could muster only two penalties by Mort to extend their lead.
But the pressure eventually told, with back to back to back goal line drop outs eventually sapping the visitors’ defensive capacity. Quick passing saw the Centurions whip the ball right to left with Mick Nanyn exploiting the overlap to score in the corner. Mort tagged on his fifth goal to put the game beyond Olypmique.
Ian Watson’s late try put some icing on it and was no less than his hard work deserved.
Leigh Centurions: 1 Donlan, 5 Stanton, 31 Nanyn, 2 Alstead, 14 Mort, 37 Hemingway, 7 Watson, 16 Hill, 9 McConnell, 10 Morrison, 11 Armistead, 30 Leuluai, 13 Smith
Subs: 4 Stewart, 15 Higson, 12 Taylor, 28 Meekin
T: Alstead (4), Stanton (16), Nanyn (65), Watson(74)
G: Mort 5/6
Toulouse Olympique: 1 Bromley, 2 Payan, 3 Planat, 4 Couturier, 5 Canton, 6 Villegas, 7 N Wynn, 8 Worth, 9 Mitchell, 10 Griffi, 11 T Wynn, 12 Almarcha, 20 Houles
Subs: 24 Borlin, 17 Barthau, 14 Maria, 13 Anselme
T: Couturier (38)
G: N Wynn 1/1
4 Alstead try, Mort goal 1/1 6-0
16 Stanton try, Mort goal 2/2 12-0
38 Couturier try, N Wynn goal 1/1 12-6
43 Mort goal 3/3 14-6
55 Mort goal 4/4 16-6
65 Nanyn try, Mort goal 5/5 22-6
74 Watson try, Mort miss 5/6 26-6
Referee: Ray Hicks / Gordon Wallace (2nd half)
Man of the Match: Ian Watson