Sheffield Eagles' swift return to Leigh ended in defeat after they began their Championship Shield campaign with a crushing 68-6 loss at Leigh Sports Village.
The competitive nature of their last showing a fortnight back proved to be a distant memory, as the Centurions plundered 12 tries, but with Swinton and Rochdale both falling to defeat, Mark Aston’s side still hold a six-point advantage over the relegation places.
The Eagles were again down on numbers with winger Ben Blackmore missing, resulting in Corey Makelim moving to the wing and Simon Brown returning to the side alongside Cory Aston in the halves.
There was no obvious sign in the opening quarter that the Eagles would eventually be put to the sword, with the visitors more than holding their own. The Centurions had the lead through Ilias Bergal’s try, but the Eagles went close when Oscar Thomas just failed to gather James Bentley’s offload after an incisive break.
Nathan Mason’s converted try on 23 minutes then opened the floodgates as the home side moved through the gears. Two minutes later Matty Dawson-Jones found Bergal for his second score, with ex-Eagle Jack Owens nailing the extras. Some neat footwork from Drew Hutchison opened up the Eagles defence for the next try, and before the break Bergal completed his hat-trick with both tries converted by Owens.
With nothing much coming back, Menzie Yere came closest when he barged onto an Aston pass but lost the ball when going for the line.
There was still time for a Mitch Cox converted try before the interval, and just after the break good work from Micky Higham and Dawson-Jones allowed Bergal over for his fourth score.
Ricky Bailey’s converted try took the score past 40, but the Eagles managed to get on the board soon after. Centre Joshua Toole broke through the line with an impressive run from the scrum, and Oscar Thomas knocked over the extras.
Toole’s score proved to be the highlight for Aston’s side as the Centurions piled on the points. Converted tries from Liam Hood and Owens exacted more pain, and the score moved past 60 with late tries from Hutchison and Dawson-Jones.
Leigh: Dagger; Bailey, Evans, Dawson-Jones, Bergal; Owens, Hutchison; A. Walne, Hood, Mason; Larroyer, J. Walne; Dezaria. Interchange: Higham, Blagbrough, Richards, Cox.
Scorers: Tries: Bergal (5, 25, 36, 43), Mason (23), Hutchison (29, 74), Cox (39), Bailey (50), Hood (64), Owens (72), Dawson-Jones (78) Goals: Owens 10/12
Eagles: Thomas; Macani, Yere, Toole, Makelim; Aston, Brown; Offerdahl, Fozard, Pick; Bentley, Weldon; James. Interchange: G Burns, Garcia, Davies, P Burns.
Scorers: Tries: Toole (55) Goals: Thomas 1/1