Emotional East overcome St Annes in NCL
LEIGH EAST 44
OLDHAM ST ANNES 16
It was an emotional Ledgard Avenue on Saturday as Leigh East came together in memory of young Open Age player Ben Woods who tragically passed away earlier in the week.
Both sides lined up ahead of the action for a heartfelt moment of applause and the game then got underway.
Playing on emotion, East came away with their best showing of the season against third-placed St Annes.
They opened the scoring after eight minutes when Kieron Wilkinson marched through a huge hole. He converted and was on hand for a further six points a few minutes later, this time supporting the outstanding Connor Grainey.
St Annes pulled a try back when Callum Fletcher dived over from dummy half and Max Flanagan goaled to make it 12-6, but East moved through the gears with well-crafted close-range tries for Mick Redford and captain Will Ludlow.
The visitors were shocked and coughed up possession eight minutes from the break. Lightning reactions from Ludlow saw him scoop up the loose ball and dash thirty metres to the line. Jay Boyd kicked the conversion and it was 26-6 at half-time.
The third quarter belonged to Oldham St Annes as they dominated position. Hard-working second-row Damon Brady scored at the side of the posts for Flanagan to goal before Fletcher, now operating at halfback, scored before the hour. At 26-16, there was certainly the hint of an upset.
East however remained composed and channeled their efforts again to blast over for three more tries. The first came after 63 minutes when Wilkinson handed the ball off on his inside for Grainey to score. Returning Jordan Hellam kicked the goal.
Then with time ticking down, Leigh East finished superbly. Another huge run from Grainey set them loose and fullback Kieran Prescott raced over for Hellam to goal and make it 38-16. In the final minute, East claimed their eighth try when Jordan Hellam dummied and dived from close range and Connor Grainey completed the score with the conversion.
Next week East travel over to league leaders East Leeds.