Leigh took a huge step towards a return to Super League as they came from 12-0 down to win 25-12 at top flight club Hull KR.
It was Centurions’ fourth straight win in the Super 8 qualifiers and their second against a Super League team. It was also the first time a Championship club had won away at a top flight since the competition began.
With three games to play and two of them at home, Leigh are inching ever closer to returning to Super League for the first time since 2005.
Neil Jukes’ side scored three tries in four minutes at the start of the second half to turn the game on its head. Andrew Dixon, Matty Dawson and Josh Drinkwater all crossed as Leigh turned a 12-6 half time deficit into a handy 22-12 lead.
And though Hull KR mounted a late fightback with a converted try from Matthew Marsh, Leigh stayed on top thanks to a Martyn Ridyard penalty and drop goal to reopen a seven point lead.
In dreadful conditions at the Lightstream Stadium, Hull KR dominated the early exchanges as Leigh were guilty of poor handling and gave away several penalties. They were twice put on a team warning by referee Robert Hicks and could consider themselves lucky not to be further behind after a poor first quarter.
Josh Mantellato kicked a second minute penalty to open the scoring and Hull KR extended their lead through the same player soon after; Mantellato got over from a Greenwood pass but was unable to add the conversion.
A 17th minute Mantellato penalty made it 12-0 and things were looking bleak for Centurions.
But they gave themselves a chance thanks to a try from Sam Hopkins in the 25th minute as he reached through a mass of bodies to ground the ball from close range. Ridyard added the conversion and Leigh ended the half brightly by forcing a drop out and then an error within sight of the Rovers tryline.
Leigh looked a little sharper after the restart and some good pressure forced Hull KR to kick the ball out on the full. From the resultant scrum, Cory Paterson and Ridyard combined well to send Dixon racing to the line from 20 metres. Ridyard’s goal made it 12-12.
The pressure from the away side was relentless at this point and Drinkwater’s high bomb proved troublesome for Rovers full-back Ben Cockayne and the loose ball was collected by Dawson who scored. Ridyard could not convert put Leigh were in front for the first time at 16-12.
It got even better for Leigh - a third try in five minutes came when Paterson broke clear before sending Drinkwater racing to the tryline from 20 metres. Ridyard’s goal made it 12-22.
Leigh continued to create chances in the Hull KR half but they were undone 15 minutes from time when Cockayne got his pass away to Marsh who finished off for a try which Mantellato converted.
Ridyard kicked a 70th minute penalty to re-establish a six point lead and after Drinkwater saw a drop goal attempt go wide, Ridyard went one better from 25 metres to seal a famous victory.
McNally, Higson, Worthington, Brown, Dawson, Ridyard, Drinkwater, Hock, Higham, Weston, Maitua, Tickle, Paterson. Subs: Hood, Hansen, Dixon, Hopkins
Cockayne, Sio, Minns, Thornley, Mantellato, Marsh, Blair, Tilse, Lunt, Allgood, Greenwood, Clarkson, Walker. Subs: Mulhern, Larroyer, Donaldson, Lawler
Weather: Heavy showers
Referee: Robert Hicks