Leigh 25-10 Vale

Nick Royle charging into the record book.
Nick Royle charging into the record book.
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There was certainly a hint of the season starting to change at Round Ash Park when the Vale of Lune and Leigh faced each other for the second time in North One West.

The outcome was a massive let down for the Vale and in particular for full back Nick Royle who broke Mark Nelson’s first team try scoring record to take his total to the season to 37, made up of 34 league tries and a hat-trick at the start of the season at Stoke on Trent.

The game began with a dangerous scampering break from the home side’s scrum half David Wood in the second minute before the Vale assumed control.

The backs moved the ball with confidence, the forwards stared to build a solid platform in the sets and the overall pace was quite high.

Jonty Higgin pinged the ball accurately behind the Leigh defenders, James Curran, David Haigh, Rob Ward and Royle began to cut through and in the 16th minute their endeavours were rewarded.

Alex Cowey charged down a kick, the Vale were awarded a scrum the ball was moved crisply on the short side and Royle wrote his name into the history book with an unconverted try wide out on the right.

The Vale were playing with vim an vigour, a scrum was taken against the head, Curran went careering downfield after Royle had taken a quick throw in and a second score seemed imminent. Quick thinking at penalty ended with Haigh crossing for an unconverted try in the 24th minute.

In the 31st minute the Leigh pack started to rumble deep in Vale’s 22 from a line out forcing the visitors to backpedal with little dignity. Scrum half Dave Wood, who was orchestrating the move, touched down for an unconverted try, but it was his forwards who had discovered Vale’s Achilles.

Winger Elliott Ryan kicked two penalty goals either side of half time to give Leigh a one point lead but this disappeared in the 45th minute when Rob Ward dotted the ball down after it had bounced unchecked in the dead ball area for an unconverted try.

Leigh then started to turn the screw and in the 56th minute number eight, Steve Millard touched down, his try being converted by Ryan.

Any meaningful Vale attacks soon petered out, they became far too predictable and easy prey for a Leigh team that scented victory and a major upset.

This was confirmed in the 71st minute when lock David Penn went over for a try from another controlled forward onslaught at close quarters, Ryan added the conversion. Leigh went all out for the bonus point but Vale managed to hold out until the final whistle.