Toronto Wolfpack have made an electrifying start to their Betfred Championship campaign by beating fellow competition favourites Leigh Centurions by twenty-two points.
The match was played in front a boisterous crowd at Leigh Sports Village. The home crowd were energised by the fact the Wolfpack boasted ten former Centurions in their squad, plus head coach Paul Rowley. Chief among these former players were former Leigh young gun and halfback Ryan Brierley who starred for the Wolfpack with a try and formidable playmaking skills. Wolfpack flyer Liam Kay continued his try scoring form from the 2017 season with a hat trick to open the 2018 campaign.
The Wolfpack had their doubters coming into the contest after a tumultuous off-season resulting in the resignation of 2017’s captain Craig Hall for family reasons and three senior players being sacked for missing curfew twice. Toronto made a poor start to open the match. Leigh wasted no time and scored in the second minute after a soft attempted tackle by Wolfpack winger Adam Higson led to Centurions forward Harrison Hansen opening the scoring.
The Centurions doubled their lead when new recruit and former Wolfpack skipper Craig Hall linked a slick backline play for Matty Dawson-Jones to score in the corner. The Wolfpack’s front row stocks were depleted due to the departure of Fui Fui Moi Moi and Ryan Bailey from the squad and an injury to new signing Ashton Sims. Keen to prove himself and fill the void, substitute prop Adam Sidlow made an immediate impact by breaking free of two Leigh defenders and crashing over the line to shift the momentum in Toronto’s favour.
Adam Higson compounded his poor start to the game by being sin binned for a high swinging arm tackle. Leigh couldn’t take advantage of the one man advantage during the sin bin period and lacked last tackle options to threaten Toronto’s defense. It was Toronto who scored shorthanded, as Leigh’s ill-discipline allowed Toronto an opportunity to attack Leigh’s try line. A quick move through the hands was finished by Liam Kay in the corner. The visiting team trailed 12-10 at the half time break.
After a 10 minute arm wrestle to open the second half, Australian journeyman Cory Paterson caught an attempted chip by Leigh at point blank range and ran 70 metres to put the visitors in front for the first time. Wolfpack backline stars from 2017 Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and Liam Kay linked up for another try to extend the lead to 10, before Ryan Brierley showed a blistering turn of pace to break Leigh’s defensive line and run 30 metres to score in the corner.
The deflated home crowd didn’t get back into the game and neither did the home team. Liam Kay capped a dominant performance for the Wolfpack by scoring an intercept try to complete his hat trick and put an exclamation point on the victory.
The result cements Toronto’s place as favourite to win the regular season Championship and positions them as a genuine threat to earn promotion to Super League. The Wolfpack look ahead to fellow 2017 League One alumni Barrow Raiders next week.
Toronto Wolfpack 34
Tries: Kay (32, 52, 80), Sidlow (22), Paterson (48), Brierley (55)
Goals: Brierley 5/7
Leigh Centurions 12
Tries: Hansen (2), Dawson-Jones (17)
Goals: Reynolds 2/2