Manchester 38 v Leigh 7
Another dominant display in the second half and good allr ound performance from Manchester saw the home team keep the pressure on league leaders Rochdale with 5 more points secured.
An early penalty Leigh so them kick to touch on the opposition 22, only for Manchester to steal the ball, which Freeman box kicked into the Leigh Half; Manchester retained possession and moved the ball down the left side where Leigh conceded a penalty at the ruck. A kick to touch produced good line out ball which was driven deep into the Leigh 22, several forward drives later the ball was over the try line but Manchester but adjudged held up.
From the resultant five metre scrum Manchester got an early drive on and powered the Leigh scrum over the line, in desperation a Leigh player offended and the referee awarded a penalty try 7v0 to Manchester.
For the next 10 minutes Manchester controlled the game but despite several good breaks in the centre by Charlie Ding and Joe Williams, the final pass either went to ground or the attacking player was bundled into touch.
Against the run of play Leigh managed to convert their first real phase of possession in the Manchester half into a well worked try under the posts, with an easy conversion the scores were level 7v7.
Manchester earned a scrum from the kick off, one more clean break by Charlie D was this time rewarded as a delayed pass gave Joe W a clear run in just to left of the posts, the conversion was missed as Freeman hit the post, 12v7.
Another good phase of possession by Leigh saw them exert sustained pressure in the Manchester 22, on the eight phase of play they were awarded a penalty, which they elected to kick but missed wide on the right.
The remainder of the first half was a mirror of earlier play, with Manchester making a number of line breaks only for either the ball to be spilled or the attacker to be taken into touch.
As the half-time whistle went Manchester were left to reflect on too many missed chances, the score was much closer than it needed to be.
The first opportunity to score in the second half fell to Manchester who were awarded a penalty inside the Leigh half, this was kicked to touch on the five metre line. With the Manchester line out operating well it looked odds on for a catch and drive try, however, while the first part was executed well the ball was spilled as the drive came on, scrum to Leigh.
As in the first half Manchester seemed to have the edge in the scrum, this time forcing a penalty which they elected to take as a scrum. A clean strike and Several forward drives later, Freeman eyed a gap and dived over for the third try, converted 19v7.
The home side made a hash of the restart, knocking on and causing an offside penalty, once again Leigh elected to kick, which was missed to the left this time, a let off for Manchester.
The clearance kick forced play into the Leigh half, where Manchester stole another line out; as the ball was moved down the backs, a Leigh player was guilty of a bad tip tackle on Seb, lucky to escape with only a yellow card he had ten minutes to reflect on his actions.
The resulting penalty was kicked to touch, where a well worked peel off the back so Karl Higginson driven over the line under the posts, a fourth try and a bonus point, conversion made it 26v7.
With the home team forwards in control of the scrum and having a secure line out, Leigh were finding it hard to get out of their own half. When they did string a few phases together the ball was eventually stolen by Manchester, Freeman cleared deep into the Leigh 22, where they were caught offside in the centres.
Manchester elected for a scrum, then first moved the ball to the left, then back over to the right where Joe W ran a great line cutting back against the grain to go over for another try, conversion made 33v7.
To their credit Leigh kept on trying to reduce the deficit and were unlucky not to get a second try with the ball being dropped over the try line as they took a quick tap at a penalty only five metres out.
As the final whistle drew near, Leigh once again tried to force play from deep in their 22, a speculative chip ahead was collected by Manchester, quickly moved out to the wide left where Ollie Dickinson went over, conversion missed final score 38v7.
Yet again Manchester pulled it out of the bag in the second half, with twenty-six unanswered points. However, this was not just down to a dominant forward display, Charlie D and Joe W caused real problems for Leigh in the centres and Freeman kept up the pressure with quick taps and a sound kicking display out of the hand. A good all round performance and five well earned points.