Championship side Leigh Centurions produced an impressive and assured display as they upset Super League Salford to book their place in the last eight.
First blood went to Salford in the second minute as Niall Evalds threw a dummy and fooled the Leigh defence to make it 4-0 with Jake Shorrocks missing the conversion.
After a spurt of penalties, the Red Devils were able to capitalise on the pressure they were building with George Griffin adding the second try of the evening. He side-stepped the Leigh defence to make it 10-0 with Shorrocks’ conversion.
It was then Leigh’s turn to hit back with Ben Reynolds on the receiving end of Peter Mata’utia’s pass to score under the sticks, followed by Reynolds converting his own try to make it 10-6.
Harrison Hansen then showed Salford that he’s still got it as he spun out of a tackle to go over for Leigh’s second try of the night. Leigh went into a 12-10 lead after Reynolds added the two.
The second quarter was evenly matched. Both sides were equalling each other in both attack and solid defence. Leigh had to deal with a ferocious Salford attack on the back of a couple of penalties just before half-time. The attack ended in a Salford pass with the Red Devils missing a great opportunity to go ahead before the hooter.
Following the half-time break, it was Leigh who were first to get on the scoreboard after Daniel Mortimer muscled his way over to make it 18-10 following the conversion.
Leigh continued to pile on the pressure but Salford managed to cling on. The Red Devils, however, looked tired and lacklustre as Leigh came out all guns blazing for the second half.
Leigh sealed the victory with five minutes to go with Drew Hutchison side-stepping a number of defenders for the match-clinching try for the Centurions. Reynolds missed his fourth conversion of the night with the final score 22-10.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Leigh not too far off
Whenever Leigh get promoted, Super League seems a stretch too far for them. They are able to beat any team on their day but it’s the consistency that is always an issue for the side.
They have plenty of SL experience across the park so come the end of the season, will they be in the mix for promotion? After tonight’s showing, it looks likely that they should push on to make the Qualifiers.
Salford not at the races
The Red Devils were very patchy in this Cup game; they had some great spells of possession and position in the first 20-30 minutes yet struggled to convert many of them.
After a solid start, they lost their way towards the end of the first half. They barely woke up in the second so they will be looking to put in a better 80-minute performance at Magic Weekend.
Leigh Centurions 22
Tries: Reynolds, Hansen, Mortimer, Hutchison
Goals: Reynolds 3
Salford Red Devils 10
Tries: Evalds, Griffin
Goals: Shorrocks 1
Leigh: Mata’utia, Dawson-Jones, Crooks, Hall, Owens, Reynolds, Hutchison, Bailey, Higham, Acton, Hansen, B. Thompson, J. Thompson.
Interchanges: Mortimer, Larroyer, Richards, Dezaria.
Salford: Evalds, Olpherts, Welham, Sa’u, Johnson, Shorrocks, Littlejohn, Nakubuwai, Tomkins, Mossop, Hauraki, Griffin, Flanagan.
Interchanges: Wood, Tasi, McCarthy, Kopczak.
Referee: Liam Moor