Featherstone Rovers let a half-time lead slip as they lost out to Leigh Centurions and their former head coach John Duffy in a testing Betfred Championship game.
Up against a Leigh team boosted by the presence of several St Helens players on dual registration and loan deals – including last year’s Super League Dream Team scrum-half Danny Richardson – Rovers started well and were 14-10 ahead at the break only to be hit by three tries in the first 18 minutes of the second half.
Although Featherstone kept going to the hooter and pulled a score back to make it four tries in the match they lost 29-20 with their former player Martin Ridyard contributing 13 points for the hosts with a try, four goals and a drop-goal. Rovers were first to score, in the second minute, with Watson Boas kicking a penalty. But the first try went to Leigh as full-back Gregg McNally went over.
Featherstone went down to 12 men for 10 minutes with Brad Day sin-binned and the Centurions took advantage of their extra player with St Helens player Luke Douglas pouncing on a loose ball to score to make it 10-2.
Rovers hit back, however, as Josh Walters was only just halted inches short of the line before Daniel Smith made no mistake with a strong finish to cut the deficit back to four points. Featherstone pressure saw Ase Boas force a drop-out with a clever kick and the home defence cracked as Luke Briscoe took Thompson Teteh’s off-load and raced over for his 50th try in Fev colours.
It got even better for Rovers just before half-time when Alex Sutcliffe found Harry Newman who charged in at the corner to make it 14-10 at the interval.
Leigh came out strongly in the second half and within two minutes had regained the lead they held to the final whistle.
TTom Spencer went over and Ridyard added the conversion.
Seven minutes later Ridyard himself went over after he went on a show and go, brushing off Cameron King’s attempted tackle, and he added the extras.
When Ridyard turned provider to send Aaron Smith – who had a spell on loan at Featherstone last year – over it was suddenly 28-14 with the visitors having a mountain to climb now.
Ridyard added a drop-goal for good measure following further Centurions pressure, although it was Rovers who scored the final try, Briscoe’s break being backed up by Watson Boas who scored then tagged on the conversion.
Leigh: McNally; Pownall, Thornley, Costello, Marsh; Ridyard, Richardson; Ashworth, Higham, Douglas, T Adamson, Thornley, Brooks. Subs: Smith, Cator, Spencer, L Adamson.
Featherstone: Turner; Briscoe, Teteh, Sutcliffe, Newman; A Boas, W Boas; Wheeldon, King, Ormondroyd, Day, Walters, D Smith. Subs: Cooper, Lockwood, Maskill, Render.
Referee: Jack Smith.