Warrington Wolves 34 Leigh Centurions 24
Super League Warrington survived a scare as they came from behind to claim a place in the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup semi-finals at the expense of Championship Leigh.
The Wolves trailed 14-12 after a ferocious first half at the Halliwell Jones Stadium but two quickfire tries from Kevin Penny set them on the way to a 34-24 win.
Giant-killers Leigh had threatened another upset after two previous victories over top-flight opposition as Greg Worthington, Ryan Brierley and Gregg McNally crossed in the first half.
But Penny touched down twice early in the second half to turn the game and another from George King - adding to earlier Ashton Sims and Ben Currie efforts - put the result out of reach.
The Centurions fought on with further Brierley and Tom Armstrong tries but Currie’s second kept them at arm’s length.
Expectant Leigh fans starting filling the West Stand more than an hour before the game and the atmosphere was fevered by the time kick-off arrived.
The first half was played at high intensity, with the Championship leaders again facing up to the challenge of superior opposition with little sign of being intimidated.
Warrington were the first side to break through, with former Leigh prop Chris Hill feeding Sims to crash over by the posts. The Wolves should have extended their lead as James Laithwaite broke soon after but the centre opted not to pass wide to Penny and a good move broke down as Ben Harrison knocked on.
Leigh responded as Worthington pounced to touch down a Brierley kick but the parity did not last as a loose carry by Bob Beswick allowed Harrison to steal the ball and Currie ran in a try.
But handling errors were common in a ferocious opening and Leigh hit back again following another as Brierley scooped up a loose ball and sprinted 60 metres to score.
Fuifui Moimoi drove close for Leigh but was penalised for a double movement and Penny thought he had gone in for Warrington only for a Stefan Ratchford pass to be ruled forward.
Leigh snatched the lead just before the interval as Liam Kay found space down the left and clipped a well-weighted kick inside for McNally. The Centurions full-back caught in his stride and powered over to give his side a two-point lead at the break.
Warrington produced just the response they needed after the restart, with Penny’s double putting the hosts back in charge.
Brad Dwyer broke from deep and Ratchford carried the attack into Leigh territory with slalom-style run. Leigh were unable to halt his progress and a long pass sent Penny over in the corner.
Penny’s second showed wonderful agility and finishing ability. The winger was under pressure out wide but dived for the corner and somehow got the ball down before being barged into touch by Leigh’s backpedalling defence.
Leigh retained some hope as Warrington’s Gareth O’Brien was then sin-binned for tackling Brierley off the ball but they had a let-off when a Currie try was disallowed for a Penny knock on.
The scoreline started to drift beyond the Centurions, however, as substitute King followed up a kick to touch down.
Brierley kept Leigh in the game as he raced onto a good kick from Martyn Ridyard to score under the posts but Currie’s second seemed to extinguish any hopes of a late fightback.
Armstrong did cross from a McNally pass with eight minutes remaining but the Wolves held enough of an advantage to scrape through to the last four.
Victory also came at a cost with Laithwaite carried off with a serious-looking ankle injury late in the first half.