11th May 2018, 22:00 | ChallengeCup
Leigh Centurions made it a hat-trick of Ladbrokes Challenge Cup victories over Betfred Super League Salford Red Devils with a 22-10 sixth-round triumph at the Sports Village.
The Centurions conceded two tries in the first 12 minutes but recovered superbly to follow up their Cup victories over Salford in 2001 and 2015 extend their winning run to 10 matches.
All three cup victories have been as a second-tier club but this latest success was no shock, with Leigh pressing strongly for an immediate return to Super League following relegation last September.
Full-back Peter Mata’utia, stand-off Ben Reynolds and evergreen forward Harrison Hansen were all a handful for Salford, who failed to make the most of a perfect start and faded badly in the second half.
Niall Evalds and George Griffin crossed to give Salford an early lead but Reynolds and Hansen responded, Daniel Mortimer put Leigh ahead and Drew Hutchinson's late effort made the game safe.
Leigh interim coach Kieron Purtill was full of praise for his promotion chasers. “The boys were absolutely fantastic tonight,” he said.
“We’ve had 10 good weeks and tonight was a real good effort for us. It wasn’t the best start. Ironically we talked about ball control and we dropped the ball on the first set.
“But after that we kept hold of it, applied some pressure and defensively worked very hard and forced errors from Salford.
“Our boys are confident, they’re playing well and a lot of our guys in there have a point to prove as well because the start of our year wasn’t great.
“We’ve got some momentum going now but we’ve still not won anything. We’re not where we should be as a club so we’ve still plenty of hard work to do."
Salford coach Ian Watson says his side will need to improve swiftly. “We couldn’t complete a set after that start,” he said. “I think the first 20 minutes we were completing between 90 and 100 per cent and after that it just fell right down and we made error after error.
“It was simple basic errors – not playing the ball properly and knocking on at dummy half. It’s something that we to look at because we’ve made a couple in the last few games. We need to look at fixing it up fast.
“The effort’s still there but, you can’t give a good team that much ball. The effort and mentality is there defensively, we just need to be a lot better with the ball.
“We always felt that if we completed some sets we could get back into the game – we just couldn’t complete any sets.”