A HAT-trick from Iain Thornley helped condemn Barrow Raiders to a 46-30 defeat away to Leigh Centurions this afternoon, but there were still plenty of positives for head coach Paul Crarey to take from the game against one of the Betfred Championship’s top sides.

It was a match few gave the Raiders much hope of winning and with 10 players still out injured it was always going to be a challenge against a side containing the likes of dual-registered St Helens pair Adam Swift – who scored two tries – and Luke Adamson, and former Super League stars like the seemingly-ageless Micky Higham.

But while the outcome was what many expected, the Raiders produced a number of encouraging moments, particularly with the ball in hand, although were let down by some disciplinary lapses in a game where referee Ben Thaler was a busy man.

The opening exchanges were very even, but three consecutive sets deep in Barrow territory saw Leigh turn the screw and open the scoring after 12 minutes when Gregg McNally burst through down the left for his 100th try in a Centurions shirt.

Leigh enjoyed a long spell in Raiders territory soon after yet could not make it count and the nearest they came during that period was when ex-Barrow loanee Jonny Pownall had a try ruled out for a forward pass.

Following this, Barrow worked their way up field for their first sight of the Leigh line and a clever grubber in behind the defence from Jamie Dallimore forced a drop-out. Then when Wartovo Puara Jr drew a penalty for offside, stand-off Dallimore kicked it to get the visitors on the board in the 19th minute.

But five minutes later, Leigh were in again as a knock-on by Tom Loxam while contesting a high ball led to a scrum from which the home side set up an attack which was finished by Sam Brooks when he burst through a gap from close range, with Martin Ridyard converting.

The Raiders then lost Jarrad Stack to the sin-bin for delaying a 20-metre restart and they were twice punished by Iain Thornley as Leigh upped the pace of the game, with the centre finishing off two flowing attacks.

Despite temporarily being a man down though, Barrow rallied and got their first try of the game two minutes before half time. Disciplinary lapses by Leigh allowed the visitors to pressurise their line and the breakthrough came when Tee Ritson flicked a pass outside him for Dan Toal to race onto, with Dallimore’s conversion making it 22-8 at the break.

The Raiders could hardly have made a better start to the second half as they got the ball back from the restart and saw Ryan Johnston break nearly 40 metres before passing inside for full-back Ritson to score with less than a minute played, followed by Dallimore converting.

Another break, this time from back row Toal, led to Ritson breaking clear again – only for him to be dragged down and a penalty awarded for holding down, followed by Leigh pair Stefan Marsh and Joe Cator being sin-binned.

Despite being down to 11 men, the Centurions were in again on 51 minutes as Swift went in for his first converted try of the game – only for Barrow to hit back when a penalty for offside from a high kick against the home side and Johnston flung a pass out wide to Stack for him to power over.

But when Leigh were back to their full complement, they took control of the game as Josh Woods, Swift and Thornley went over in quick successions, while Ridyard’s successful conversions pushed them close to the 50-point mark.

It was Barrow who ended brighter though, with Deon Cross intercepting and racing 90-plus metres to score and Glenn Riley barrelling through the defence – both tries converted by Lewis Charnock – with the away side being clapped off at full-time by the travelling fans.

Leigh Centurions: Gregg McNally; Jonny Pownall, Adam Swift, Iain Thornley, Stefan Marsh; Martyn Ridyard, Josh Woods; Luke Douglas, Micky Higham, Sam Brooks, Toby Adamson, Nick Gregson, Luke Adamson. Interchange: Liam Hood, Joe Cator, Tom Spencer, Andy Thornley.

Barrow Raiders: Tee Ritson; Deon Cross, Jarrad Stack, Jake Spedding, Tom Loxam; Jamie Dallimore, Ryan Johnston; Josh Johnson, Wartovo Puara Jr, Alec Susino, Bradd Crellin, Willie Minoga, Lewis Charnock. Interchange: Nathan Mossop, Glenn Riley, Tom Walker, Dan Toal.

Referee: Ben Thaler.