Leeds Rhinos 25 Leigh Centurions 12
Gallant Leigh finally lost their 100 per cent record to Super League giants Leeds Rhinos in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup last night.
But it was anything but easy for the Rhinos as the Centurions tackled, frustrated and attacked in equal measure, roared on by a huge Leigh following.
There was little between the sides during the opening exchanges.
Leeds opened their account after six minutes when Ryan Hall touched down following a fortunate play where the ball again went to ground in the build-up.
The Centurions hit back to level after 12 minutes when Tom Spencer charged over the line and Martyn Ridyard goaled.
Leigh followed that with an even better try when Kurt Haggerty skied a kick, Liam Kay contested and then flicked the ball out for Tom Armstrong to slide over at the corner.
Ridyard added his second conversion and although the Rhinos fashioned further breaks for Stevie Ward, Leigh’s defence held firm with Matt Sarsfield and Armstrong outstanding.
Liam Sutcluffe saw a try disallowed for obstruction and Leeds gradually worked their way into position for Stevie Ward to grab the try his efforts diserved to make it 12-12 although it was a contentious one referred to the video referee and scrutinised.
The Centurions had to hang in and their tenacity shone through with a defensive stint that frustrated the Rhinos into errors.
As time ticked down on the first half, Ryan Brierley attempted a drop goal which went wide. Leeds launched one final attack but Ridyard cleared up for the sides to go in level, 12-all at the interval.
The second half erupted with old fashioned fisticuffs that earned Sarsfield and Jamie Peacock a spell in the sin bin.
Leigh again took the game to their rivals and after some magic hands by Ridyard, Oliver Wilkes could not ground after 50 minutes.
Chances were at a premium but with Ridyard outstanding, Leeds did not have things their own way. A timely intercept by Sutcliffe saved Leeds and the Rhinos went on the attack.
Peacock stormed through the middle but Leigh chased back and continued to hold Leeds at bay into the last 10 minutes.
Leigh lost Armstrong to injury but fashioned a chance when Sean Penkywicz offloaded. Unfortunately Leeds scooped up possession and ended the set with Robbie Ward scooting between the posts.
Kevin Sinfield converted and then dropped a goal to make the game safe and save the Super League giants’ blushes.
There was just enough time near the end for Peacock to send Hardaker streaming over from 20 metres with Sinfield adding his fourth goal to make it 25-12.