Leigh Centurions 36 Sheffield Eagles 28

Fuifui Moimoi is held-up by Sheffield. Photo: Brian King
Fuifui Moimoi is held-up by Sheffield. Photo: Brian King

A week after they surrendered a big lead to draw at Bradford, Leigh almost suffered the same fate as Sheffield battled back from 26-10 to level the game at 28-28 with just minutes left.

But unlike at Odsal, Leigh fought back for the victory with Cory Paterson sealing victory with a try two minutes from the end.

After an tumultuous week off the field at Leigh Centurions which saw scrum half Ryan Brierley suspended, coach Neil Jukes was relieved to take two points from an eventful game.

“I didn’t think anyone really got going,” said Jukes. “Every time we looked like building some momentum we gave away some soft penalties. In the second half Sheffield had 10 more sets than we did but on a positive note we showed character to come back.

“I was a bit worried towards the end as the flow of the game got away with us but I’m just really pleased to get over the line.”

Jukes also revealed that the incidents of last week when Ryan Brierley handed in his notice at the club only to be suspended a day later, had affected the players.

“The week’s events have affected us, yes,” he said.

“It was like a bombshell on Thursday. I have dealt with things in a professional manner and no lies have been told by me. Jeremy Kyle has a lie detector. If I sat in a room with Ryan Brierley you can put all your money on me.

“We’ve got a good set of honest guys in that dressing room who deserve better. We want people here who want to be here but some people want to turn it into a pantomime and it’s not helping.

“If people don’t want to be here that’s fine, I don’t care. If they want to move on they can manipulate moves.”

On the pitch, Leigh were again badly hit by injuries with several first choice players and loan signings Lewis Charnock and Richard Owen came in for their debuts. Leigh were further hampered when full-back Lee Smith suffered a bicep injury in the warm-up meaning Jonny Pownall switched to full-back and 18th man Eze Harper came in on the wing.

Paterson’s try finally killed off a determined Sheffield fightback which had Leigh rocking.

Memories of last week at Odsal came flooding back when Leigh saw a 32-6 lead evaporate and the game ended in a 32-32 draw.

Dayne Weston had given Leigh a seventh minute lead as he hit Micky Higham’s short pass at pace to score under the posts. Martyn Ridyard added the conversion.

Centurions were quickly in again as Martyn Ridyard’s long pass wide found Adam Higson and he cut infield to score.

But the visitors responded quickly and when winger Rob Worrincy scored in the corner but Michael Knowles couldn’t add the extras.

Higham scampered in from dummy half for Leigh’s third try 13 minutes before half-time and Ridyard’s conversion established a 16-4 lead.

Sheffield again hit back within four minutes as full-back Quentin Laula Togagae finished off a flowing move. Knowles kicked the conversion.

With half-time approaching, Leigh re-established their two score lead when debutant Charnock produced a good finish from 15 metres and Ridyard added the goal.

Only four minutes of the second half had been played when Ridyard did incredibly well to get his pass away on the last tackle to Eze Harper who in turn found Reni Maitua and he raced to the tryline.

But Leigh failed to kill off the game and back came Sheffield with a fine effort from Menzie Yere converted by Knowles. A Ridyard penalty reopened a 12-point lead but the game hit something of a sticky patch, summed up by an off-the-ball scuffle between Sheffield’s Mitch Stringer and Gareth Hock of Leigh. Both saw yellow but the incident seemed to energise Sheffield.

Worrincy claimed his second try with nine minutes remaining and the conversion from Knowles got the visitors back within six. And almost inevitably, Sheffield struck again moments later - this time it was Yere who turned provider for Laula Togagae to go under the sticks. Knowles’ conversion made it 28-28.

Leigh were thankful of a penalty two minutes from time for Ridyard which edged them back in front before Paterson’s last minute try put the game beyond Sheffield’s reach and Ridyard added his eighth goal.