Leigh 22-10 Salford: Centurions recover to score memorable hat-trick over Red Devils

All the tries from Leigh Centurions win over Salford Red Devils

Leigh made it a hat-trick of Challenge Cup victories over Super League Salford
with a 22-10 sixth-round triumph at the Sports Village.

The Centurions conceded two tries in the first 12 minutes but recovered superbly to follow up their cup victories over the Red Devils in 2001 and 2015 and extend their winning run to 10 matches.

All three cup victories have been as a second-tier club but this latest success was no shock, with Leigh pressing strongly for an immediate return to Super League following relegation last September.

Full-back Peter Mata’utia, stand-off Ben Reynolds and evergreen forward Harrison Hansen were all a handful for Salford, who failed to make the most of a perfect start and faded badly in the second-half.

The Centurions were without former Salford hooker Liam Hood, which meant a starting spot for 37-year-old Micky Higham and he rolled back the years to give his side impetus from dummy half.

Leigh's Keiran Petro reacts to his side's 22-10 win over Salford

Yet the home side could hardly have made a worst start, with prop Jamie Acton knocking the ball on inside the first set, which gave Salford the position for scrum-half Jack Littlejohn to get full-back Niall Evalds over for the first try.

Leigh’s defence looked fragile at the start and Salford’s enterprise in running a penalty from in front of the posts paid off when second rower George Griffin powered his way over a second try.

Jake Shorrocks converted’s Griffin’s try to make it 10-0 but Leigh gradually worked their way into the game and hit the front with two tries in four minutes.

Mata’utia opened up the Red Devils defence with a jinking run to get Reynolds over for the first while former Salford favourite Hansen used his brute force to add a second.

Reynolds converted both to make it 12-10 and he might have extended their lead with a third try but for a last-ditch tackle by Junior Sa’u.

Salford coach Ian Watson laments defeat to Leigh in the Challenge Cup

Both sides tightened their defence in the second quarter, which was scoreless, and it was the Championship side that struck first in the second half.

Scrum-half Drew Hutchison was held up over the line but Leigh maintained the pressure and substitute hooker Daniel Mortimer, on his first appearance for three months, forced his way past a couple of wrong-footed defenders from dummy
half for a 49th-minute try.

Reynolds kicked his third goal to extend the lead to 18-10 and, oozing confidence as the Red Devils lost their composure, the Centurions piled on the pressure with prop Ryan Bailey held up over the line and Mata’utia brought down just short of it.

The harder Salford tried to get back into the contest, the worse they became and Hutchison finally put them out of their misery with Leigh’s fourth try four minutes from the end.