Salford suffer cup upset at Leigh


Published: Saturday 18th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Unbeaten Championship leaders Leigh delivered a stunning knockout blow as Super League club Salford crashed out of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup.

The Centurions twice came from behind in thrilling fashion to beat the Red Devils 22-18 in front of a 6,358 crowd at Leigh Sports Village and stretch their winning run to 21 matches.

The build-up to the fifth-round tie was dominated by the selection by Leigh of former England forward Gareth Hock despite an agreement not to play against his old club, but he played little part in their downfall.

Hock, one of five ex-Salford players in the home line-up, spent just 25 minutes on the field in two spells and looked well short of match fitness.

Instead it was left to former Wigan hooker Bob Beswick to orchestrate a magnificent display by Paul Rowley’s men, who trailed 6-0 and 18-12 to their Super League visitors, who were badly hit by injuries and indebted to a superb performance from French half-back Theo Fages for keeping them in contention right to the end.

The match was played amid a wonderful atmosphere and the ferocity was in evidence inside the first minute when Salford forward Cory Paterson was placed on report for a high and late tackle on Leigh full-back Gregg McNally.

Fages opened the scoring after seven minutes when he dummied his way over for the first try and his half-back partner Michael Dobson kicked the conversion before hurting his knee in a collision four minutes later.

Dobson attempted to play on but eventually succumbed to his injury and the Red Devils also lost centre Junior Sa’u with a wrist injury before half-time.

With Paterson also limping, the visitors were rocked by the flair and determination of their Championship opponents, who scored two tries in four minutes to go 12-6 ahead.

Beswick was the provider each time, a short pass getting veteran forward Tommy Goulden over from close range while McNally finished off his break from halfway, and Martyn Ridyard kicked both conversions.

That was the signal for Hock to enter the fray but Salford turned the tables with two tries either side of the break from Niall Evalds to retake the lead.

They drew level on 34 minutes when Fages broke clear to get the full-back over for his first try and got his over again three minutes into the second half courtesy of a neat reverse pass.

Paterson kicked both goals to make it 18-12 and Leigh missed a glorious chance to level matters when centre Tom Armstrong got winger Liam Kay haring for the corner only for him to lose the ball in Fages’ last-ditch tackle.

Just when Salford seemed to be in control, the game took a new twist as Leigh stormed back in front.

They were thrown a lifeline on 63 minutes when Salford winger Ben Jones-Bishop’s careless pass was snapped up by Leigh half-back Ryan Brierley for a gift of a try.

Ridyard’s third goal tied the scores and the Centurions regained the lead three minutes later McNally fashioned a try for winger Johnathan Pownall.

There was no shortage of action right to the end but Leigh, who pushed Leeds all the way in last year’s quarter-final, hung on and just about deserved their famous victory.

Published: Saturday 18th April 2015 by The News Editor

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