Leigh 18-29 Vale

Vale's Rob Ward sprints to the line.
Vale's Rob Ward sprints to the line.
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THIS was a fiercely competitive encounter on a perfect playing surface that ended with a Vale try bonus point victory and only their third win on the road this season in North One West.

Leigh made all the early running as the Vale struggled to clear their lines and in the fourth minute the home side took the lead when prop Steve Millard barged his way over from close range, Tom Forshaw added the conversion.

Three minutes later the Vale were back on level terms with a sparkling try that matched the weather.

Andy Powers and Darren Wilson exchanged passes before Wilson exploded on one of his ground hugging runs that sent him careering through Leigh’s defence.

Doyle came up on his elbow to take a pass and race clear for his try converted by Tom Carter.

Vale began to move the ball around as their backs started to exploit any gaps.

A break involving Doyle and Jimmy Moore created space for James Hodder to race away, only to stop in his tracks because the referee had spotted a forward pass.

The Vale were certainly running hot and in the 20th minute they went into the lead.

James Hesketh was lurking with intent when a Leigh attack approached half way; he timed his run to perfection, inserting himself between the passer and receiver to snaffle the ball and trot away.

A 40 metre dash might have been within the prop’s range but he opted to off load to Ward who collected a dipping pass around his ankles on his way to his first senior try which Carter converted.

Two Forshaw penalty goals completed the first half scoring in what had been a far from sedentary 40 minutes and left the outcome hanging in the balance.

Vale rather shot themselves in the foot in the opening minutes of the second half when following Hesketh’s departure to the sin-bin Leigh took immediate advantage with a 47th minute unconverted try from winger Adam Dyson.

Leigh were unable to fully capitalise on the visitors’ predicament because in the 50th minute Carter kicked a penalty goal after Moore scorched through the centre.

Sam Wallbank left the action to loud applause, suffering from a dead leg, and his replacement Oli Cowey was quickly in the thick of the action, helping to thwart a dangerous forward thrust from Leigh close to Vale’s goal line.

Vale’s enterprising backs were on the lookout throughout the game to cut loose and in the 64th their pace proved too much for a stretched Leigh defence.

Again Wilson was the main instigator, hurtling through the cover. Doyle chipped ahead and suddenly Moore was scampering after the ball for a try converted by Carter with 15 minutes remaining.

Leigh were still within touching distance and it took a top drawer, all-enveloping tackle from Wilson to stop what appeared to be a try scoring opportunity before Vale collected their fourth try and a bonus in the 72nd minute.

Danny Lin, an ace forager, had won the ball on the ground in the Vale half, to set up an attack.

Moore hacked the ball deep into unguarded Leigh territory and Hodder gave chase.

Just as the ball reached the limits of the dead ball area he pounced leopard-like for an unconverted try.

As the game moved into injury time, Leigh battled hard for a losing bonus point and compressed the Vale deep in their 22.

It was a case of all Vale hands to the pumps but unfortunately their task was made much harder when Moore was initially shown a yellow card for what referee Clark had deemed a deliberate knock-on in the red zone.

Moore argued his case too forcibly and was issued with a second yellow which quickly became red.

Vale survived an uncomfortable few minutes to complete the double over Leigh on an afternoon where residents in the neighbouring houses were firing up the lawn mowers,

re-arranging the patio furniture and giving the sun loungers an airing on the eve of British Summer Time.

Vale of Lune; T Carter, J Hodder, A Powers, J Moore, R Ward, K Doyle (D Hall 77), D Wilson (capt), J Hesketh (A Cowey 68), P Watson, M Hanson, D Perry, L Farnworth, A Garnett, D Lin, S Wallbank (O Cowey 57).