Sheffield Eagles 20 Leigh Centurions 6
Sheffield Eagles brought Leigh Centurions winning run to a grinding halt when taking the spoils in this tough fought Kingstone Press Championship clash at the Don Valley Stadium.
It ended Leigh’s nine match winning spree that included the Northern Rail Cup Final win over the same opponents, and there is little doubt that Leigh victory had fired up the Eagles for this Friday night clash.
Yet Leigh arrived to play their fourth game in 12 days equally as determined to ruffle the Eagles’ feathers for a second time and with a gutsy performance they did their best to try and upset their hosts.
It was a tough tackling affair and at the end of the eighty minutes both teams had given neutral pundits plenty of reasons to think that the Championship Grand Final may be a repeat of that earlier Cup Final.
Having said that, it is all so tight at the top of the division that this set back saw Leigh drop back into fourth place behind a Halifax side they had beaten nine days earlier.
In the end the two try contribution of Papua New Guinea centre Menzie Yere proved the key difference between the sides and the nuggetty player crashed in for his first score in the 13th minute that Dom Brambani goaled.
Leigh were trying their best to get out of their own half with hard driving runs from Michael Ostick and Ryan Duffy, whilst Bob Beswick and Martyn Ridyard were busy trying to create the openings.
But it was Sheffield who doubled their advantage on 28 minutes when the impressive Michael Knowles’s gave the cut out pass that missed Yere and sent winger Vinny Finnigan in at the corner where Brambini was again able to add the conversion.
Leigh welcomed Martin Aspinwall into action after his lengthy lay off and there was more game time for Joe Bullock whilst Tom Spencer and Tommy Goulden worked hard.
But Leigh were not going to throw in the towel and when Ryan Brierley put winger Jonathan Pownall away, he was in support to take the return and sprint in for a Leigh try that Ridyard goaled to close the score to 12-6 at half time with Leigh right back in the game.
It was tight at the start of the second half too with Brierley being pulled back as he chased his own kick ahead, and Knowles knocking on at the Leigh end when a try looked possible.
Bambini opened an eight point gap with a penalty before Leigh let the home side off the hook when great work from Ridyard and Beswick put Andy Thornley posts only for him to knock on and he seemed set to touchdown under the posts.
Brambini missed a couple of penalty chances then Yere blasted in for his 26th try of the season to put the game out of Leigh’s reach. In the dying seconds, Ridyard added a penalty to ensure Leigh took a bonus point from the game.
Tries: Yere (13, 75), Finigan 28.
Leigh Centurions: McNally; Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall; Ridyard, Brierley; Ostick, Beswick, Duffy, Thornley, Goulden, Briscoe; subs - Penkywicz; Aspinwall; Bullock; Spencer.
Tries: Brierley (35),
Goals: Ridyard 2/2.
Referee: Matt Thomason.
Half time 12-6