TORONTO WOLFPACK 46 – 28 LEIGH CENTURIONS
Toronto Wolfpack made it three wins from three this season over fellow promotion contenders Leigh with a dominant performance to defend the den successfully for the fourth successive week.
With arguably their toughest opponent landing in the city this week, and on the eve of Canada Day, the Wolfpack were decked out in their traditional red strip and kick started the celebrations early with one of their most impressive first half displays of the season. The game was enjoyed by a crowd of 6,844 as Lamport Stadium threw open the doors for a “kids go free” event.
The build up and emotion leading into this clash was noticeably higher, as was the intensity throughout the contest, and Paul Rowley’s men put in a clinical attacking display before half time to notch up a commanding lead that Leigh never looked like overturning.
Despite a spirited Centurions fightback, in which they scored five second half tries to make the score line respectable, the result was never in doubt as Toronto look almost out of sight at the top of the Betfred Championship with only four games remaining.
Conversely, Leigh still sit just outside the top four with games running out and paid the price for their inability to match the Wolfpack’s onslaught in the opening 40 minutes.
Toronto Assistant Coach Simon Finnigan was delighted to pick up another big win over the Centurions but was adamant there was room for improvement after letting their dominance slip in the second half. He said:
“It’s pleasing to get the win. Our first half was very good, especially in attack. We have some things to work on from the second half though, there were times were we slipped off.”
“There is a lot more intensity in these matches. I thought it was a decent game; we’re a little bit disappointed with that second half but we’ll certainly take the two points against quality opposition.”
The Centurions defence was enthusiastic in the opening exchanges but the Wolfpack worked their way down field to open the scoring within the first ten minutes.
Following a penalty in the middle of the field, the hosts worked the ball to Blake Wallace who put in a trademark left foot step to dart his way to the line and put Toronto in front.
Leigh looked to hit back immediately and made a break on the right edge but a magnificent intercept from Gareth O’Brien saved a certain try to highlight an exciting and fast paced opening quarter of an hour to the match.
The Wolfpack made no mistake on their next attacking set, notching up their second score, this time on the right edge. The ball was worked wide into the arms of Chase Stanley, who supplied a sublime offload for Matty Russell to barge his way over to double Toronto’s advantage.
O’Brien added a penalty goal from close range following a goal line drop out sailing out on the full from Leigh to give the hosts a commanding three score lead.
The patience and slickness Toronto were playing with in the first half was really troubling the Centurions. Wallace in particular was having a huge impact once again, scything through the defensive line before dummying past the full back to score his second.
Cory Paterson was sin binned for an illegal shoulder charge, leaving Leigh with a man advantage leading into half time.
The Centurions enjoyed their best spell of the game but couldn’t crack the rigid Wolfpack defence, who did just enough to bundle Ilias Bergal into touch in his bid to reach the line.
Toronto had no such problems and put an exclamation mark on a fantastic first half with their fourth try. With 30 seconds on the clock, Adam Sidlow found a terrific offload on the blind side for Russell to eventually squeeze in for his second and put the hosts in total control at the break.
Leigh needed a rapid response to try and turn things around and got on the board immediately after half time. Back to back penalties allowed the Centurions to work the ball up field and they went wide for Ben Crooks to charge over on the right.
Despite the visitors new lease of energy, Toronto’s defence was up to the task and repelled their opponents numerous times before extending the lead themselves.
Substitute Andy Ackers is making a habit of scoring close range tries and caught out Leigh’s goal line defence to sneak over next to the posts for a momentum turning score.
Toronto were back in the groove with ball in hand and put the game to bed in impressive fashion with a hat trick try to Wallace.
Ackers made a half break through the middle before offloading to Liam Kay, who managed to smuggle the ball past the cover defence for Wallace to touch down acrobatically in the left corner for his sixth try in three matches and bring the crowd to their feet.
It had been a blistering period for Ackers, who once again showed his threat around the ruck, scooting over for a double on the right as the Wolfpack started to run away with the game.
The away side stemmed the Wolfpack tide with a well worked try up the middle to Daniel Mortimer and went back to back when Kyle Lovatt spun his way over on the left to close the gap.
A melee ensued from the following kick off in which Jake Emmitt and Greg Richards were sent to the sin bin to cool off for the remainder of the game.
Leigh were coming home with a wet sail and scored two more quick tries, with Crooks and Mortimer both scoring their second, but Kay capitalised off a Centurions error in the final play of the game to ensure Toronto completed the scoring and ran out worthy winners.
Air Transat 1st Star: For the second week running, Blake Wallace was electric. The young Australian is flying high on confidence and was at the heart of everything good for Toronto, scoring a well taken hat trick.
Air Transat 2nd Star: Andy Ackers
Air Transat 3rd Star: Jack Buchanan
31 Gareth O’Brien
30 Matty Russell
3 Greg Worthington
33 Chase Stanley
5 Liam Kay
17 Blake Wallace
7 Ryan Brierley
32 Darcy Lussick
9 Bob Beswick
29 Jake Emmitt
22 Rich Whiting
24 Cory Paterson
21 Olsi Krasniqi
Subs (all used)
8 Jack Buchanan
14 Andy Ackers
15 Adam Sidlow
28 Sam Hopkins
Tries: Wallace (9, 29, 58), Russell (16, 40), Ackers (53, 61), Kay (80)
Goals: O’Brien 7/9
Dismissals: Paterson (sin bin), Emmitt (sin bin)
19 Jack Owens
22 Ricky Bailey
3 Ben Crooks
17 Kyle Lovett
25 Ilias Bergal
6 Ben Reynolds
7 Drew Hutchinson
13 Harrison Hansen (C)
14 Liam Hood
31 Jordan Baldwinson
11 Kevin Larroyer
12 Bodene Thompson
15 Jordan Thompson
Subs (all used)
9 Daniel Mortimer
20 Greg Richards
21 Nick Gregson
24 Jack Blagbrough
Tries: Crooks (42, 74), Mortimer (66, 79), Lovatt (69)
Goals: Reynolds 4/5
Dismissals: Richards (sin bin)
Penalty count: 7-9
Referee: G Hewer
Half time: 24-0
Scoring sequence: 6-0, 12-0, 14-0, 20-0, 24-0, 24-6, 30-6, 34-6, 40-6, 40-12, 40-18, 40-22, 40-28, 46-28