Wolfpack win defensive battle against Centurions to remain unbeaten
Toronto improves to 4-0-0, has allowed only 3 tries in 320 minutes of rugby play
The Toronto Wolfpack relied on a stiff defence en route to a 14-8 victory Sunday over the hometown Leigh Centurions in Betfred Championship rugby league play.
The Wolfpack, who lost a Super League promotion showdown 4-2 to London Broncos last October, have outscored their opposition 116-20 this season.
Toronto coach Brian McDermott liked what he saw on defence, but wanted more from his offence.
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"We were all over the place in that second half," he lamented from England.
Toronto, which tops the English second-tier at 4-0-0, completed 18 of 20 sets in the first half and just 11 of 17 in the second.
Blake Wallace and former Centurions Adam Higson and Bodene Thompson scored tries for Toronto, which led 10-0 at the half. Gareth O'Brien kicked one conversions at Leigh Sports Village.
Lead streak halted at 260 minutes
Luke Douglas scored a try for Leigh (2-2-0). Martyn Ridyard added a penalty and a conversion.
"Easily the toughest [game of the season]," said Toronto forward Ashton Sims.
It was a largely even opening 20 minutes although Leigh had a territorial advantage. And the home side went ahead after Thompson was called for obstructing a Leigh player on a Micky Higham grubber kick into goal. Leigh elected to get the points off Ridyard's boot, in front of the posts at the 20-minute mark.
It marked the first time Toronto had trailed in 260 minutes this season.
The Wolfpack moved ahead in the 27th minute after gaining good field position thanks to a Leigh penalty. An Adam Sidlow offload near the goal-line found Wallace and the Australian danced through three would-be tacklers for a converted try that gave Toronto a 6-2 lead.
Toronto pressed as the first half wore on and Higson, one of the many ex-Leigh players on the Toronto payroll, touched down a deft O'Brien kick in the 35th minute.
The Wolfpack snuffed out a Leigh attack near their goal-line in the dying seconds of the half.
Leigh's Danny Richardson was sin-binned in the 53rd minute for a professional foul near the Centurions goal-line, trying to slow the ball down after a fine Ricky Leutele line-break. Less than a minute later, Thompson touched down for Toronto's third try after a Gadwin Springer offload kept the attack alive. O'Brien hit the post on the failed conversion attempt.
Leigh finally breached the Toronto defence in the 64rd minute with Douglas, thanks to a kind bounce, collecting his own grubber kick to score under the posts. Ridyard's conversion cut the lead to 14-8.
Looking to extend the lead beyond a converted try, O'Brien tried a drop goal in the 74th minute but it went wide as Ridyard chased him down.
Wolfpack forward Jon Wilkin and Centurions back Jonny Pownall, a former Toronto player, were both suspended. Wilkin served as a TV analyst for the Sky TV broadcast of the game.
Nick Rawsthorne replaced Matty Russell (ankle) on the wing. Russell had scored five of Toronto's 16 tries in its first three games. Newly signed prop Anthony (The Vegan Warrior) Mullally, formerly of Leeds Rhinos, made his Toronto debut off the interchange bench.
McDermott downplayed reports of Toronto's interest in New Zealand star Sonny Bill Williams, calling them "a nice headline."
Toronto plays at Dewsbury Rams next Sunday.