Injury hit Leigh surrendered a 32-6 lead to draw 32-32 in a dramatic finish at Bradford.
Neil Jukes’ side appeared to be heading for a famous victory as the game entered the final quarter but they suffered a dramatic collapse as Bulls scored five times in the last 15 minutes. Danny Addy had a conversion with the hooter about to sound which tied the scores and produced a perfect kick to ensure both teams got a share of the points.
When the sides met in the corresponding fixture last term it ended 36-36 and games between these sides rarely disappoint.
“It feels like a defeat,” admitted Jukes. “But if you had offered us a draw before the game with the injuries we had, we would have taken it.
“We couldn’t stop the flow of the game in the second half and Bradford had all the momentum.”
Leigh were missing eight first team players: Gregg McNally, Liam Kay, Rangi Chase, Bob Beswick, Tom Armstrong, Willie Tonga, Andrew Dixon and Martyn Ridyard.
In contrast, Bradford had won all three of their games this season and started the game as huge favourites.
Leigh made a determined start, keen to keep the ball alive and the unlikely figure of Cory Paterson directing play from stand-off.
Only four minutes had gone when Centurions winger Jonny Pownall went in at the corner after Bradford lost the ball in front of their own posts. Lee Smith added the conversion.
Leigh continued to enjoy the lion’s share of possession and a determined break from Jamie Acton split the Bulls defence before the pass went out to Ryan Brierley who raced 35 metres to score under the posts. Smith added the goal and he also landed a penalty in the 20th minute after a high tackle.
Bradford were handed a lifeline in the 29th minute. Micky Higham threw a wayward pass and it bounced kindly for centre Kris Welham who raced 50 metres to score. Danny Addy kicked the conversion.
The try gave the home side a boost but they were continually thwarted by some determined Leigh defence. At the end of the half, Leigh almost scored twice. Fuifui Moimoi was held up over the tryline then Pownall was denied a second try as referee Richard Silverwood called Greg Worthington’s pass forward.
The second half started just as positively for Leigh and they scored three tries in quick succession. Smith pinched a try from dummy half before a determined solo effort from Reni Maitua shattered the Bulls defence.
Brierley scored a second try as he intercepted a loose pass and raced 50 metres to score. With Smith kicking all three, Leigh looked to be heading for the win at 32-6.
Even when James Clare scored for Bulls with 15 minutes left, it appeared to little more than a consolation effort. But Clare repeated the trick moments later, following up a Kurt Haggerty kick through.
With nine minutes remaining Adrian Purtell crashed over and Leigh were struggling to get a touch of the ball. Further tries from Addy and Omari Caro pulled Bradford within touching distance and Addy had the chance to tie things up with his conversion from the touchline. And after missing easier kicks earlier in the day, Addy stepped up with a superb effort to delight the home fans and break Leigh hearts.
Leigh: Smith, Pownall, Worthington, Whiting, Higson, Paterson, Brierley, Moimoi, Higham, Weston, Hansen, Hock, Acton. Subs: Foster, Hopkins, Maitua, Emmitt
Bradford: Mathers, Clare, Purtell, Welham, Caro, Gaskell, Addy, Sidlow, O’Brien, Lovegrove, Olbison, Haggerty, Pitts. Subs: Ferguson, Blythe, Clark, Walker
Referee: Richard Silverwood
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