LEIGH EAST 20 DRIGHLINGTON 22
The opening game of the National Conference League Three season saw visitors Drighlington just edge Leigh East.
Drighlington made the brighter start with stand-off Nathan Larvin bursting over in support of a Gary Smith offload but Mick Sanderson couldn't convert.
East replied themselves after 24 minutes with a great try. Substitute Andrew Ball picked up from dummy half after a direct charge from captain Adam Holland and dashed away before finding the supporting Harvey Massey. The scrum-half ran to the posts and Holland goaled to make it 6-4 in favour of East.
Both teams traded good field position before East pulled the trigger on a backline move in the 34th minute. Fullback Danny Griffiths sliced through for the first of two tries and the hosts led 10-4 at half-time.
The second half started well for Drighlington who were given a wide running chance that brought a good finish at the corner for Dan Cahill. Back came East and they seemingly took a stranglehold on the game as Griffiths scored his second try and hooker Jordan Hellam converted well from wide out.
Three back-to-back tries put the game in Drighlington's favour. It was started by similarly elusive fullback Jake Dearden in the 52nd minute. With East conceding penalties and being put on a warning, the visiting pack marched downfield giving hooker Steve McIntyre the chance to burrow over. Surprisingly Sanderson couldn't convert, but the game was level.
Sanderson did turn try provider on the hour. His delicate chip was collected by Dearden for his second try and the only successful goal kick of the game from Sanderson saw Drighlington 22-16 up.
Leigh East responded well with Will Ludlow and Thomas Woods making their presence felt and claimed their fourth try five minutes from time. Adam Wilkes had set the position with a barn-storming run and when Adam Holland kicked right, the visitors lost possession for Nathan Gaskell to touch down. Unfortunately, Hellam couldn't convert and time ran out for the hosts.