Jeff Dickinson-Fox reviews the campaign which saw Melbourne Storm crowned premiers in 2017.
4 days ago
Super League newcomers Leigh are still looking for their first win of the season after being handed another harsh lesson on life in the top flight with a 32-6 home defeat to Salford.
The Centurions battled to the end but were no match for a lively Salford side who were led superbly by hooker Malcolm Alker, the man of the match. Leigh, who conceded three tries in each half, suffered more misery with the loss of influential skipper Jason Ferris through injury after an hour and had prop Richard Moore placed on report for allegedly using his knees in the tackle.
After the promise of a narrow defeat at Warrington, this performance was more reminiscent of the shabby opening display against Huddersfield and the Leigh faithful must be wondering where their first win will come from.
While they relied on individual contributions, Salford were superbly organised by Alker and Luke Robinson. The busy Robinson gave the visitors an early lift with a one-on-one ball steal on Leigh full-back Ben Cooper.
The Centurions were forced to rely on the relieving kicks of John Duffy. And, when they did manage to get within sight of the Reds try-line, Anthony Stewart quickly had them back-pedalling with a spectacular run which set up the position for the game?s first try. As the home defenders desperately tried to re-group, Robinson darted away from the ruck and his perfectly-timed pass got David Hodgson in.
Leigh briefly threatened through winger John Wilshere but they went further behind on 29 minutes when Salford back rower Mark Shipway supported a twisting run from centre Cliff Beverley to score his side?s second try. And there was no way back for the Centurions when the Reds grabbed a third try just before the break through full-back Karl Fitzpatrick.
Loose forward Chris Charles made the break through the heart of the home side?s defence and the pacy Fitzpatrick was on his shoulder to finish off. Charles, off target with his first kick at goal, landed two conversions to give the visitors a handy 16-point interval lead but Leigh were clearly spurred by coach Darren Abram?s interval pep talk.
And the vociferous crowd at last got something to cheer on 46 minutes when centre Phil Jones took a long pass from stand-off Jason Kent to glide through the Reds defence for a try. Neil Turley added the conversion but was wide with a penalty which would have cut the deficit to eight points.
It was as near as Leigh got to their more streetwise opponents, who made sure of their second win of the season with three further tries. Hard-working skipper Alker got second rower Ian Sibbit through a gap and centre Kevin McGuinness finished off at the corner on 57 minutes.
Ten minutes later burly forward Gareth Haggerty went past some weak tackling to touch down under the crossbar and Sibbit also punished Leigh?s defensive frailty by forcing his way over from close range.
Leigh: Cooper, Wilshere, Jones, Jackson, Smyth, Kent, Duffy, Stapleton, Ferris, McCurrie, Leafa, Wilkes, Knott.
Replacements: Sturm, Turley, King, Rowley, Moore.
Salford: Fitzpatrick, Hodgson, Littler, McGuinness, Stewart, Beverley, Robinson, Coley, Alker, Rutgerson, Sibbit, Jonkers, Charles.
Replacements: Brocklehurst, Shipway, Baldwin, Haggerty, Johnson.
Leigh: 6 (0)
Salford: 32 (16)
Tries: Hodgson, Shipway, Fitzpatrick, McGuinness, Haggerty, Sibbit
Goals: Charles (3), Robinson.
Referee: Ronnie Laughton (Barnsley)
Thanks to http://www.superleague.co.uk for another excellent article.