First one in the bag.
Leigh notch up first win of the season, away at Tarleton.
The new look First Team made it’s first competitive appearance, in the newly formed Lancs/Cheshire Division One, yesterday at Tarleton and came away with their first win of the season.
After some frantic and interesting early exchanges, it was Leigh who were to take the lead through the trusty boot of Rob Drake who slotted a thirty metre penalty on five minutes – some things never change over the close season.
Tarleton rallied and put several good phases together and worked their way back down the pitch. They were rewarded for their efforts, when they crashed over for an unconverted try, from a scrum, whilst Leigh were temporarily down to fourteen men, with a player off in the sin bin.
Leigh responded, almost immediately, when Alex Leadbetter fielded clean ball from a lineout, on half way, to step and accelerate his way through the floundering Tarleton defence, for a brilliant individual try, which Rob Drake, equally brilliantly, converted from wide out, on the left, in the twenty fifth minute.
Leigh extended their lead, in the thirty eighth minute, when Rob Drake added another penalty to his tally, from thirty metres out but Tarleton seized on the opportunity to narrow the deficit, by dropping a goal on the stroke of half time, to take the sides off at the break, with Leigh leading by thirteen points to eight.
Another Rob Drake penalty, on forty-three minutes, extended Leigh’s lead to eight points but again Tarleton replied quickly and their very talented, right winger, skinned the Leigh defence, with some amazing footwork, to scorch over for a thrilling, unconverted try.
Leigh soon recovered their composure and good hands got Johnnie Drake into space, on the left, for him to set up a good platform, close to the Tarleton line, for replacement prop, Conor O’Neil, to wrestle his way over, from close quarters, for a well deserved try, which was, again, converted by Rob Drake, in the fifty fifth minute.
Tarleton bounced back again, in the sixtieth minute, once more through their right winger, who conjured up a try from nothing, when he deftly grubber kicked the ball through the advancing Leigh defence and rounded them to score a fine touch down, which went unconverted.
The next fifteen minutes saw the game ebb and flow, with both sides creating several chances, which went unfinished, either through poor execution/selection of options or scrambling defence.
It was certainly end-to-end stuff and the crowd were royally entertained.
Leigh added to their total, extending their lead to twelve points, in the seventy fifth minute, when an excellent break down the right, involving Johnnie Drake and Jamie King, produced a well worked try, for Johnnie Drake, who dotted the ball down under the Tarleton sticks. Alex Leadbetter stepped up to add the conversion.
Tarleton would not lie down and worked their way back up the pitch to eventually crash over the Leigh line, for a converted try, with three minutes left on the clock, to set up a nail biting finish.
To their credit, Leigh’s defence was magnificent in these dying minutes, as Tarleton threw wave after wave of attacks at them and they defiantly hung on to register their first win in this 2018-19 campaign.
This was a very creditable performance, from a very young squad, who are prepared to play exciting rugby and they all played their hearts out. Every player gave it their all and the Team’s defence throughout was heroic, with many telling tackles being made by Marcus Morris-Williams, Charlie Wood, Dan Hunter and Rob Drake, in particular.
The Men of the Match awards were given to Charlie Wood for his hard shift in the forwards and to newcomer, Jamie King, for his excellent display in the backs.
Next week, Leigh host Altrincham Kersal who beat Rochdale 25 – 19 yesterday. (K.O. 3 p.m. at Round Ash Park, Leigh).