York City Knights were on the receiving end of one of the heaviest defeats in living memory this afternoon when Leigh Centurions hit a century in victory at Leigh Sports Village.
The table-topping hosts crossed for seventeen tries on an afternoon for the Knights to forget with hooker Edwin Ipape and half-back Joe Mellor in particular wreaking havoc among James Ford’s men.
Coming into the match with a number of key men unavailable for injury, Ford had to make five changes to his matchday seventeen with forwards Pauli Pauli, Jordan Thompson and Danny Kirmond all unavailable while half-back Brendan O’Hagan missed out through injury. Loanee half-back Ata Hingano was ineligible against his parent club.
The Centurions started quickly with a break from impressive back-rower Sam Stone punching a hole, giving Lachlan Lam the platform to open the scoring. Krisnan Inu converted and began a prolific afternoon that would see him miss only one conversion attempt.
Thereafter, the Knights perhaps edged the territory battle for the following ten minutes and looked to be in after Jamie Ellis and Matty Marsh worked the numbers in our favour. Play was brought back, though, for obstruction and Leigh would show their class with back to back tries that truly put their stamp on the game, half-back Mellor scoring both just before the twenty-minute mark.
The twenty-fifth minute did see the Knights score their sole try of the afternoon when great work from Marsh allowed the full-back to feed Joe Brown. The winger still had work to do, work he did admirably to narrow the deficit. Ellis, facing his former club, hit the sticks with his conversion attempt.
After arresting Leigh’s dominance briefly, there was hope that Ford’s men would build on Brown’s effort but it was the Centurions who finished the first-half in emphatic fashion.
Stone and Ed Chamberlain both crossed down the hosts’ right before Mark Ioane scored his first shortly before the hooter sounded. Inu’s perfect half with the boot gave the Centurions a 36-4 advantage at the interval.
Edwin Ipape, Leigh’s interchange hooker, has shown his devastating skill against countless opponents this season and the Knights were no different this afternoon. In the fourth minute of the second half, an outstanding burst from dummy-half saw the Papua New Guinea international reach our ten before passing to the supporting Ioane, the prop scoring his second of the afternoon.
Leigh then truly put the hammer down, playing some champagne rugby league in the process. Tries from Chamberlain, Mellor and O’Donnell came in a destructive five-minute spell before Stone and Brand took Leigh to the seventy-point mark.
With twenty minutes remaining, the Centurions were looking solely to entertain. Five tries in the last ten minutes, the final one coming from former Knights loanee Aaron Smith amid the crowd’s desire to hit the century, completed the humiliation and the final hooter was a mercy for the Knights.
Despite the emphatic defeat, results elsewhere had sealed York’s spot in the Betfred Championship Play-Offs for the second time in three completed seasons, the Knights’ strong early season form playing a huge part in that achievement. James Ford will now turn attention to putting effort into recapturing that form.
Leigh Centurions: Caleb Aekins, Blake Ferguson, Ed Chamberlain, Krisnan Inu, Josh Charnley, Joe Mellor, Lachlan Lam, Adam Sidlow, Aaron Smith, Tom Amone, Joe Wardle, Sam Stone, John Asiata.
Interchanges: Edwin Ipape, Keanan Brand, Mark Ioane, Kai O’Donnell
Tries: Lam (3‘), Mellor (18‘, 20‘, 52’), Stone (28‘, 59’), Chamberlain (31’, 49’), Ioane (40’, 44’), O’Donnell (56’), Brand (62’), Sidlow (73’), Aekins (75’), Ferguson (77’), Inu (79’), Smith (80’)
York City Knights: Matty Marsh, Joe Brown, James Glover, Jacob Ogden, AJ Towse, Liam Harris, Jamie Ellis, Jack Teanby, Will Jubb, Ronan Michael, Marcus Stock, Bailey Antrobus, Chris Clarkson.
Interchanges: Tom Inman, Ronan Dixon, Joe Porter, Myles Harrison
Tries: Brown (24’)
Geoff Pryce Man of the Match: AJ Towse – Burflex Scaffolding