Leigh Centurions cruise into Round Five of the Challenge Cup with win over Widnes Vikings on poignant day for the club


On a poignant day for all involved with the club as legendary former winger Des Drummond was laid to rest, Leigh Centurions progressed into the Fifth Round of the Challenge Cup with a 38-4 win over Widnes Vikings. 

Drummond’s funeral cortège had passed the Leigh Sports Village earlier in the day with many in attendance to honour the Rugby League great as he made his final journey. It was there where Adrian Lam’s side eased past Widnes with a performance that the British international would have been proud of.

Live in front of the Premier Sports TV cameras, the early rounds of the Challenge Cup had pitted two of the current top three in the Betfred Championship against one another. With a points difference in excess of 100 going into the contest, the Vikings sat at the top of the table after four games, however, they endured a sluggish start against the Centurions.

Leigh ran into a 16-0 lead and effectively had the tie sewn up within the opening 20 minutes as full-back Caleb Aekins grabbed two of his three tries on the night early on while teammate Ed Chamberlain also barged his way over the line.

At that point, it had looked like two-time cup winners Leigh would run away with it in embarrassing fashion for visitors Widnes, but Simon Finnigan’s side did claw back a glimmer of hope before the break to stem the tide.

Ex-Leyther Brad Holroyd finished well in the corner, taking a kick across the field well, but that was as good as it got for the Vikings who now definitely will not be adding to their collection of seven Challenge Cup trophies this year.

Tempers flared prior to the interval and after the hooter had gone, with Leigh’s Mark Ioane sin-binned late on in the first half for slowing the play of the ball down as Widnes looked to get more points on the board.

The scores stood at 16-4 when the teams eventually did reach their respective dressing rooms and though the hosts restarted a man lighter for eight minutes or so, the Vikings never looked likely to take advantage of that extra body.

It was instead the Leythers who would put more points on the board despite powerhouse Ioane not being on the field, with Keanan Brand getting on the scoresheet. Aekins also completed his hat-trick with a memorable breakaway try as Lam’s side pulled away on the scoreline.

Sam Stone and Jy Hitchcox completed the night with tries of their own alongside Ben Reynolds kicking a penalty as the contest ended 38-4 with Leigh progressing through to Round Five where they will travel to fellow Championship outfit Bradford Bulls.

However, the evening was marred ever so slightly for the Centurions by the actions of some in the away end at the Leigh Sports Village.

Widnes were well-backed throughout by a good number of travelling fans, but a minority opted to throw objects at Leigh players celebrating a try while one invaded the pitch at full-time.

The relevant authorities will investigate the situation and have their say for sure, but all have been addressed that there is simply no place for behaviour like that in sport.

Widnes as a club have released a short club statement in the wake of the game condemning the actions of the minority. A tough night for the Vikings on the pitch, but perhaps a tougher one off it too.

Finnigan’s side return to action next Monday when they welcome Barrow Raiders to the DCBL Stadium in league action, in front of the Premier Sports cameras again. Leigh meanwhile play hosts to Newcastle Thunder on Sunday afternoon.

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