Batley Bulldogs saw their three-match winning run in the Betfred Championship come to an end as they suffered defeat to Leigh Centurions at Fox’s Biscuits Stadium last Sunday.
Batley went into the game buoyed by wins against Dewsbury and Swinton over a tough Easter weekend but despite producing a determined performance, they found Leigh a tough nut to crack as the Centurions moved into the top five.
Batley counted themselves unlucky not to be ahead at half-time, when they trailed 18-12, and had an early second half effort to draw level before the Centurions pulled away.
Batley made a bright start and although Dave Scott missed with an early penalty attempt, after scrum-half Dominic Brambani was taken out by a late challenge, they took a seventh minute lead.
Hooker Alistair Leak made a trademark dart from acting half back and burrowed under a host of Leigh bodies to touch down with Scott adding the conversion.
Leigh responded with a three-try blast in the space of nine minutes as they clicked into gear.
Iain Thornley charged through the Bulldogs defence to score and Ryan Brierley landed the first of six goals on a day when they Leigh half back racked up 16 points on his return to the side.
Leigh kept play alive on the last tackle as Josh Woods and Brierley linked superbly for Jack Higginson to produce an excellent finish, with Brierley converting.
Leigh were in again as Liam Hood broke through and found Stefan Marsh in support to send the winger racing between the posts to give Brierley a simple conversion.
Batley replied before the break with a superb try which gave them hope.
Sam Smeaton scooped up a loose ball on his own 20 metre line and sent Scott racing away down the slope.
Scott slipped a pass inside to Louis Jouffret and the French half-back in turn provided a return pass to Smeaton, who then sent Johnny Campbell racing between the posts, with Scott landing the simple goal.
The early stages of the second half remained tight, although Batley did force a Leigh error from a high kick but they were unable to make the pressure count.
Brierley capitalised when Batley were penalised for not playing the ball correctly and he slotted over the goal.
Brierley then grabbed a crucial fourth try for the Centurions as he broke through the Bulldogs defence soon after and raced away for a try which he converted to give his side a 14-point lead.
Leigh made the game safe nine minutes from full-time when they took play close to the line and Josh Eaves nipped over from acting half back, with Brierley again tagging on the goal.
Batley kept plugging away and were rewarded for their efforts with a second try of real quality.
Leak broke upfield to start the move and found Jouffret in support and he produced a lovely pass which sent Joe Taira storming through the defence on his way to the line.
Leigh surged back downfield and completed victory a minute from the end when Martyn Ridyard’s kick was gathered by Higginson to ground for his second try.
Despite defeat, Batley are playing with renewed confidence and know victory away to York City Knights on Sunday would help put pressure on the sides immediately above them.