ANOTHER win for undefeated Saints and a strong defensive effort were the only two positives to draw out of a tough to watch 80 minutes capped off by a shocking James Bentley injury.

There were far too many handling errors, penalties and ‘six agains’ - particularly in the first half - for Saints to get into any sort of rhythm with the ball.

And that made for an ugly, ill-disciplined encounter, apart from at the start of the second half when Saints managed to attack at their own pace, earn quick play the balls and penetrate the Leigh defence twice.

Unfortunately, just when it looked as though Saints were going to let rip with a third try, Anthony Gelling snaffled an 80-metre intercept to prick the bubble.

It was a real Sliding Doors moment, Saints score there and there’s a good chance it would have precipitated a Leigh collapse and an avalanche of points would have ensued.

Instead it emboldened Leigh’s doggedness and the game reverted to an ugly, disjointed arm-wrestle and never really recovered as a spectacle.

Although Saints never looked remotely like losing, by the same token they never produced the attacking performance they had been seeking.

Saints have a habit of rising to the the occasion - and maybe this was a case of the reverse happening against the so far winless Super League newcomers, currently anchored to the foot of the table.

That has possibly been the case all season as they have yet to play any of last year’s top six in the Super League.

Maybe they need to see the big guns in front of them to rise for the occasion.

Hopefully the back-to-back champions do not pick up too many bad habits while they await that step up in class.

Although they were taking on a determined Centurions side who had done plenty of soul-searching in the week, Saints allowed the opposition to grow in confidence with a series of early handling errors.

Mark Percival, still blasting off the rust following his lengthy absence, was guilty of a couple of early spillages ruined a couple of good ball sets in the Leigh end and set in a few jitters and doubts in the Saints attack.

Although Sione Mata’utia, who had a very busy game, finished off a piece of classy play from Jonny Lomax to open his account in the red vee - that would be Saints’ only try of what became an increasingly frustrating first half.

It is not that there were not chances, and Welsh flier Regan Grace was unleashed a couple times only to be closed down by the defence.

On at least one of those you would have normally backed him to beat the cover on the outside - but not this time.

It became harder work when a succession of penalties - some of which they may have felt hard done to with - handed Leigh plenty of time with the ball.

It essentially meant that Saints spent most of the half defending which they did until a third successive infringement saw Theo Fages handed the yellow card.

Down to 12 they eventually conceded on the flank with Centurions’ Matty Russell going in despite Lachlan Coote’s desperation.

The second half started brightly, and there remains a lot to like about the second phase that Agnatius Paasi’s offload game brings.

With Lomax striding purposefully through the Leigh defence to send Coote in, and then the full back fashioning the chance for Jack Welsby to polish off, all looked bright.

Alas Gelling’s intercept derailed that, leaving Saints to just make sure with Kevin Naiqama’s effort on the wing.

Leigh: Brierley, Sa’u, Gelling, Thornley, Russell; Reynolds, Wildie; Flower, Peats, Mason, Hellewell, Thompson, McCarthy. Subs: Hood, Bell, Peteru, Gerrard.

Tries: Russell (36), Gelling (48)

Goals: Reynolds (2 of 2)

Saints: Coote; Naiqama, Welsby, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley,Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Mata’utia, Bentley, Wingfield. Subs: Amor, Paasi, Batchelor, Dodd.

Tries: Mata’utia (20), Coote (42), Welsby (45), Naiqama (59)

Goals: Coote (3)

Half time: 6-6

Referee: Marcus Griffiths