Rochdale Hornets 32 Leigh Centurions 34 by Mike Hulme

THE Centurions stay two points clear at the head of the Arriva Trains National Cup West Group - but they came close to being de-railed.

Although Leigh were only behind once, they could never quite kill off a spirited Hornets side who were quite lethal in exposing the Centurions' defensive weaknesses.

Leigh are still unbeaten in the competition and have taken nine points from a possible 10 but coach Paul Terzis admits they are still way below their best.

"We've got half our game right," he declared afterwards. "With the ball in hand we're looking sharp but when we have to defend we have terrible lapses in concentration and those are stopping us putting teams to bed."

Hornets swept into a 6-0 lead early on thanks to the first of Paul Owen's try hat-trick and an Ian Watson goal. But two tries in three minutes gave Leigh a 10-6 advantage.

John Duffy set up the first of Paul Rowley's two tries and soon afterwards Damian Munro scored another. Neil Turley added one goal.

The tit-for-tat exchange of scores set the tone for the rest of the game. Hornets levelled before Rivett made gave Leigh a 16-10 half time lead.

Hornets were out of the blocks first at the start of the second half with centre Jon Roper being held up over the line inside the first minute but Leigh managed to weather the storm. When skipper Adam Bristow robbed Watson 30 metres out and galloped clear for a try, converted by Turley, Leigh's lead of 22-12 looked to have sewn things up. But Hornets struck back and two tries from Owen, one improved by Watson, had the match all square again at 22-22.

Leigh pulled themselves together and a Sean Richardson break brought a try for Rowley but the six point cushion was again down to two when sub Mick Nanyn got in at the corner.

A minute from time Bristow sent Lee Sanderson scampering under the bar but winger Casey Mayberry cut through a static defence for another six-pointer.