7:00pm Saturday 1st March 2014
By Ross McLean
OUTSIDE centre Tom Pickthall scored half Kirkby Lonsdale’s points as the Underley Park side recovered from a disastrous start to run in six second-half tries and complete a remarkable comeback.
Tries from Elliott Ryan, Jimmy Wilkinson, Iain Wood and Chris Morgan gave Leigh a commanding early lead, before Kirkby replied through Pickthall close to half-time.
Kirkby turned the tables in the second period as Dave Barton crossed the line twice with Martyn Knapton, Tom Slater, Simon Dowker and Pickthall also scoring as Ryan registered for the hosts.
Leigh made an amazing start to the clash, Ryan scoring in the corner in the fourth minute after a speedy run down the left flank before Wilkinson crossed the line moments later.
Despite being firmly in the relegation mire, Leigh retained possession from the re-start, with their forwards gaining territory before Wood rolled over for another try, converted by Adam Brett.
And the hosts – without a home win all season – were not finished as their early blitz continued with Morgan making headway down the right before scoring under the posts, with Brett again converting.
Trailing 26-0 midway through the first-half, Kirkby looked to work their way back into the game while Australian Sam Latu replaced the injured Matt Belshaw.
The visitors generated some momentum ahead of the break with Barton feeding Pickthall to force his way over the line to score by the posts, with the same player converting.
Facing a19-point deficit, the second period was a different story as Kirkby roared out the blocks with winger Knapton outpacing his opposite number on the left to touch down, with Pickthall converting.
And immediately from the re-start, Kirkby broke through the Leigh defence again as Ben Walker fed Slater who crashed over, with Pickthall’s boot adding a further two points.
Wilkinson and Pickthall exchanged penalties before Leigh scrum-half David Wood received a yellow card, with the Hand Lane side leading 29-21 midway through the second-half.
With the match approaching the final ten minutes Kirkby took the lead for the first time, Barton taking a return pass following a strong run from Latu as Pickthall converted.
Kirkby extended their lead further as another Latu break allowed Walker to engineer a chance for Pickthall to cross the line, with his unerring accuracy adding a further two points.
Leigh were far from beaten and strong play by their pack put right wing Ryan clear to run in behind the posts, with Brett’s conversion narrowing the Kirkby lead to three points.
In the latter stages of the game, Jack Akrigg produced an incisive to pass to find second row Dowker who touched down to essentially guarantee Kirkby victory, as Pickthall converted.
And with their final move of the match, Barton took a return pass to deceive the Leigh defence and score in the left corner, with Pickthall’s final conversion dropping short.
Taking full advantage of Vale of Lune’s home defeat to Wirral, Kirkby now occupy fifth-place in the League North One West standings after recording their third consecutive victory.
Leigh: Matt Newton, Iain Wood (c), Tom Baker, David Penn, Alex Middleton-Adams, Steve Millard, Chris Morgan, Calvin Crompton, David Wood, Rob Drake, Chris Mayren, Ross Shepherd, Elliott Ryan, Kieran Duffy, Jimmy Wilkinson. Replacements: Chris Houlton, Paul Trumble, Adam Brett
Kirkby Lonsdale: Ryan Holmes, Matt Hoyland, Tim Groves, Matt Hughes (c), Simon Dowker, Sam Chesney-Benson, John Whittaker, Craig Galbraith, Ben Walker, Dave Barton, Matt Belshaw, Jack Akrigg, Tom Pickthall, Martyn Knapton, Tom Slater. Replacements: Ryan Terry, Dan Armistead, Sam Latu
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