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Frustrating end to Jason Demetriou's final league game at Keighley Cougars
Player-coach Jason Demetriou, right leads the applause to fans on his last home league appearance. Picture: Charlie Perry
Keighley Cougars 0, Leigh Centurions 26
Jason Demetriou’s final home game in charge of the Cougars ended in bitter disappointment tonight as Co-operative Championship play-off rivals Leigh claimed victory with a clinical first-half display.
Two tries from Centurions' full back Gregg McNally and a third from influential stand-off Martyn Ridyard helped the visitors into a 14-0 interval lead before Jonathan Pownall claimed a late brace.
That ensured there was no final hurrah for player-coach Demetriou in the club’s last home game of the regular season before he heads home to Australia.
Demetriou is to take up a two-year contact as head coach of Queensland Cup side Northern Pride and, although Cougars are virtually assured of a play-off spot, this was no way to mark his final league game at Cougar Park.
It was also prop Michael Korkidas’ last home appearance, and Demetriou, who lined up at loose forward, saw his men nilled for the first time all season and denied so much as a losing bonus point.
He said: “It was frustrating because if you look at the scoreline you would think it’s a whitewash, but it wasn’t.
“We created opportunities and didn’t back ourselves. It was like we didn’t believe that we could break them and score.
“Every opportunity Leigh created they scored, but we didn’t.”
Neither side could fashion any meaningful opportunities during a tight opening quarter and Cougars lost former Bulls star Semi Tadulala to a hamstring injury in the 15th minute.
Leigh made the breakthrough in the 26th minute when some slick handling cut Cougars apart and culminated in McNally touching down in the left corner.
Ridyard, who supplied the final pass to McNally, missed the conversion, and two minutes later the visitors struck again in clinical fashion.
This time loose forward Sam Hopkins broke clear from halfway and showed intelligence to send McNally scampering in from 25 metres out.
This time Ridyard did convert and Demetriou’s side found themselves 10-0 behind but Cougars scrum half Sam Obst could have replied.
He collected a loose ball and raced the length of the field, only to cut infield and see his progress halted.
Danny Jones then had a try disallowed for a knock-on and, right on the stroke of half-time, Ridyard showed delightful skill to chip forward and collect his own kick to ground the ball in the right corner.
That left the Cougars 14-0 behind at the break and chances grew scarce after the resumption until winger Pownall bagged a fourth in the 71st minute when he touched down in the left corner.
Ridyard, who again had a hand in the try, added his second goal from four attempts and was on target with the boot again when Pownall crossed again for his second late on.
Despite the setback, Demetriou added: “I’m not overly-disheartened because I think the effort, attitude and commitment was all there.
“It’s just the technical side was down a bit but losing Semi really didn’t help us at all.”
Cougars: Moss, Duffy, Haythornthwaite, Barnett, Tadulala, Jones, Obst, Shickell, Feather, Cherryholme, Shepherd, Pursglove, Demetriou Replacements: Wray, Coleman, Rawlins, Korkidas.
Leigh: Mcnally, Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall, Ridyard, Duffy, Ostick, Beswick, Spencer, Briscoe, Goulden, Hopkins Replacements: Brearley, Nicholson, Henderson, Thornley
Referee: Jamie Leahy