Leigh Centurions 41 Doncaster 14
Leigh ended a 10 year wait for a play-off win by beating Doncaster at the Sports Village.
Paul Rowley’s side recovered from 14-6 down after 31 minutes to score four tries in nine minutes before half-time before keeping the visitors at bay for the entire second half.
It was quite a response from the Centurions who now get a week off before they play for a place in the Headingley Grand Final.
The last time Leigh won a play-off game was when they won promotion to Super League in 2004.
Centres Tom Armstrong and Michael Platt scored two each while there was another double from Ryan Brierley.
There was barely a minute on the clock when Leigh took the lead through a well-worked try from Kurt Haggerty which Martyn Ridyard converted.
But Doncaster - the only side to beat Leigh in a league game this year - produced a stirring response. A Paul Cooke bomb was spilled by Adam Higson and Cooke was able to score by the posts. Stewart Sanderson added the conversion.
Doncaster scored a second try just a few minutes later. Scrum half Richard Wilkinson cut infield to catch out the Leigh defence and scored a try which Sanderson again converted. Sanderson added a penalty moments later.
A triple substitution from Leigh shook things up a bit, with the arrival of Bob Beswick quickening up the pace around the ruck. Jamie Acton and Jonny Walker also added some thrust to the pack.
With half-time approaching, Leigh produced a devastating spell, scoring four tries in eight minutes. Brierley’s pass got Platt in at the corner as Leigh ran the ball on the last tackle before Platt struck again, this time profiting from some good work by Kurt Haggerty. Ridyard couldn’t convert but Leigh were level at 14-14.
A sensational break by Liam Kay opened up the Doncaster defence and his inside pass got Brierley racing clear, scoring under the posts leaving Ridyard a simple conversion.
Then just on half-time, Gregg McNally scored Leigh’s fifth try as he shadowed a Brierley break.
Doncaster enjoyed some quality field position after the restart but the closest they came to scoring was when Scott Spaven was held up over the line.
With the gap still a precarious 10 points, Haggerty took advantage of a break down in play with an improvised drop goal which seemed to catch everyone - including him - by surprise.
Injuries were catching up with Doncaster and their substitution options were limited to the point that they started to tire and make poor choices with the ball.
Leigh capitalised by wrapping up the win with three more tries in the last 15 minutes. Brierley produced a nice finish from 15 metres to step infield before the busy Kay linked with Sam Barlow on the short side to send Armstrong racing clear. Ridyard converted both
With three minutes remaining, Armstrong scored his second but Ridyard couldn’t add the extras.
Leigh: McNally, Higson, Platt, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Emmitt, Penkywicz, Hopkins, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Walker, Aspinwall, Acton
Tries: Armstrong 2, Platt 2, Brierley 2, Haggerty, McNally
Goals: Ridyard 4/8
Drop goal: Haggerty
Doncaster: Scott, Hudson, Whelam, Morrison, Sanderson, Cooke, Wilkinson, Carbutt, Kesik, Robinson, Dunn, Colbon, Emmett. Subs: Castle, Spaven, Spiers, Wilson
Tries: Cooke, Wilkinson.
Goals: Sanderson 3/3
Referee: Matt Thomason
Weather: Dry and windy