Leeds Rhinos sealed their spot as the top club in this season’s Qualifiers by beating Leigh Centurions 37-12 at Headingley on Thursday night. The Rhinos also lifted the Bev Risman Trophy which will be contested by the two clubs while they’re in the same division.
The hosts went into half-time with an 18-6 lead despite scoring four tries to the Centurions’ one. The first action of note came three minutes in when Jamie Jones-Buchanan was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Greg Worthington. The Leigh centre stayed on the pitch for 20 minutes but went off due to the knee injury he had sustained. The Centurions turned the ball over on the Leeds line on two occasions while Jones-Buchanan was off the field but the Leeds defence proved too strong. Brian McDermott’s men returned to their full complement within seconds of breaking the deadlock through Brett Ferres. Kallum Watkins couldn’t convert. A four minute brace from Jimmy Keinhorst gave the hosts more breathing space but Watkins was still on a blank from the tee with two more misses. Down the other end of the field, scrambling Rhinos defence stopped Matty Dawson from crossing the whitewash and the West Yorkshire club made the newly promoted Centurions pay. James Segeyaro picked up a loose ball and ran the full length of the field while taunting Lee Smith who was tracking back in vain. Headingley went wild when Watkins converted for the first time to make the score 18-0. Leigh finally got off the mark in the latter stages of the half when Sam Hopkins muscled over the try line. Martyn Ridyard converted from in front. Watkins attempted a penalty goal on the hooter but the ball hit the post and went wide.
After the restart, the hosts extended their lead to 30-6 with quick-fire tries from Ashton Golding and Joel Moon. The Leeds players were appealing to referee Gareth Hewer about the possibility of an eight point try for Golding’s effort as he was caught high on the way to the whitewash but it came to nothing. Golding and Segeyaro combined to get Leeds into Centurions territory soon after and on the next tackle, Moon found his way to four points. Watkins converted both. Just before the hour mark, Leigh got back to their style of play and smooth hands down the left hand side made space for Dawson to touch down. Ridyard nailed the kick from touch. In the final quarter, Tom Briscoe latched on to a Moon grubber to score and seal the victory. Watkins added the extras. Leigh ended the match with 12 men as Smith was sent to the sin-bin for dissent just moments after his side were put on team warning. Moon added a bit of icing to the top of the Rhinos cake with a drop goal in the final minute of the match.