LEIGH EAST 20
By Dave Parkinson
IT was the visitors that eventually came out on top following a topsy turvy game at Ledgard Avenue.
The loss for Leigh East sees them drop into the relegation zone with just two games remaining to save their National Conference League Division Two status.
Things started well enough for East with Tom Worthington booting a fifth minute penalty to ensure a 2-0 lead. That is how it remained for much of the half as two nervous teams slugged it out. Adam Wilkes, player-coach Martin Roden and Jamie Waters set the ground work with big front row efforts that were supported by substitutes Andrew Ball, Craig Wingfield, Louis Else and Jay Yarwood.
The hosts were forced to reshuffle their backline after winger Ricky Holt picked up an injury and East grabbed command when Wingfield offloaded inside his own half, Ball came up with a piercing run and Ryan Gray supported for a good try under the posts. Worthington made it 8-0 and East repeated the dose three minutes later when Worthington held the ball long enough to attract the defence and passed for impressive James Teixeira to dance around the fullback for the try. Worthington added his third goal and the hosts were 14-0 up.
With time ticking down on the first half, the visitors struck when the otherwise solid Gray spilled a difficult high hick into the path of visiting centre Jake Dearden who ran under the posts for scrum-half Michael Sanderson to goal. That left the score at 14-6 for half-time.
Five minutes intot he new half Drighlington dominated field position and when East fell foul of referee Bianca Zeitman, Sanderson goaled to reduce the deficit to six points. East then claimed a memorable try after 54 minutes when Worthington chipped over the advancing defence, collected the ball and passed it right in the same movement for Teixeira to release at the right second and send Josh Swift racing for the line. Worthington's fourth goal gave the hosts a seemingly commanding 20-8 lead.
Drighlington had other ideas and set about building their way back. They claimed a try on the hour through John Gallagher. Sanderson goaled and the halfback was at the heart of the action five minutes later before hooker Steve McIntyre was hauled down on the line. As East tried to recover they were unable to stop burly prop Ethan Hallas from getting over. Sanderson's conversion levelled the game at 20-20.
Drighlington now had momentum and Nathan Larvin struck a drop-goal to nudge them in front after 75 minutes. The visitors then inflicted a double blow on East when Luke Pennington scored from close range and Sanderson put his fifth goal between the posts. East continued to play with spirit but Drighlington held out for victory.