Reserves Championship Grand Final: Leigh Centurions 28-30 Dewsbury Rams
The young Centurions suffered last minute heartbreak in the Grand Final at LSV when Dewsbury Rams centre Sam Dunne plunged over in the corner for a last minute winning try that finally sealed a thrilling encounter.
While the Rams players celebrated Paul Anderson’s side were left to reflect on how near they had come to a second successive league leaders and grand final double.
With a much changed side from that which earned an equally dramatic last minute winner in the Grand Final last year against Sheffield, Anderson and Simon Finnigan had reshaped the Reserves and took them so close to another notable triumph.
Having lost a raft of last season’s regulars including Josh Ward, Chris Hankinson, Anthony Bate, Jamie Tracey and Cameron Pitman to Barrow and Elliot Liku and Sam Peet to loan spells at Championship One clubs, the new look Reserves can reflect on another successful year despite the dramatic late reversal.
But Dewsbury’s young coach Jonathan Schofield can be rightly proud of his side’s efforts after the Rams took the decision to restore their Reserves side this season.
In a see-saw battle neither side was able to establish a foothold on a game that was too close to call throughout. Man of the Match Mitch Cox, outstanding in attack and defence, got his side off to a great start with a second minute try, Jack Hansen kicking the first of his four goals. But the Rams levelled when Byron Smith surged over, Brad Delaney kicking the first of his three goals and they survived a ten-minute shorthanded when Austin Buchanan was sin-binned for obstruction.
Eze Harper set the game alight with a superb try fashioned by Hansen from a scrum move deep inside the Leigh half but the Rams were level at the break after Ryan Langton crossed just before the interval.
The Centurions went back in front when the impressive Corey Lee showed great strength close to the line to spin over within two minutes of the re-start only for Jason Muranka to level matters as he followed up a kick to plunge over.
Frankie Halton got Leigh back in front at 22-16 and when Brad Delaney failed to add the conversion to James Delaney’s try the home side held a tenuous two-point lead as the game entered the final quarter.
Brad Delaney got the Rams’ noses in front for the first time with a converted try after 62 minutes. But the lively Dec Gregory sent Cox over for his second try of the game with 12 minutes remaining with what looked to be the decisive moment before Dunne’s last gasp winner broke Leigh hearts.
Teams. Leigh Centurions: Corey Lee (try); Jake Knox, Eze Harper (try), Mathias Pala, Sam Baggaley; Ethan Jukes, Jack Hansen (4 goals); Sam Hopkins, Lewis Foster, Luke Warburton, Adam Barber, Tom Roughley, Mitch Cox (2 tries). Subs: Dec Gregory, Josh Swift, Frankie Halton (try), Tommy Holland.
Dewsbury Rams: Austin Buchanan; Will Forsyth, Sam Dunne (try), Ryan Langton (try), Matt Brook; James Glover, Brad Delaney (try, 3 goals); Byron Smith (try), James Delaney (try), Jason Muranka (try), Josh Ellis, Scott Howarth, Keiron Hyde. Subs: Dom Horne, Jose Kanga, Dan Lidbury, Jenson Okhovat.