Leigh Centurians 34
Sheffield Eagles 22
SHEFFIELD Eagles were battered and bruised but fought back to claim their first point of the season off pace-setters Leigh Centurions.
In the final 20 minutes and after losing two key players injured Eagles battled to narrow the losing margin to 12 points and claim a losing bonus point.
That could be vital to the Eagles play-off hopes as they travel to Featherstone – who are joint Championship leaders with Leigh - on Thursday.
Eagles’ coach Mark Aston said his team had made too many errors in the first half but added: “We can take a positive that we did ‘win’ the second half.”
Eagles were hit by the loss of Samoan international Quentin Laulu-Togagae following a hamstring injury in training with Dane McDonald coming in at stand-off.
An interception by Rhys Evans sent the winger racing 60 metres to touch down with Mick Nanyn adding the goal to give Leigh an early lead.
Eagles produced a lightning response with a passing moving following penalty with Misi Taulapapa taking Joe Hirst’s pass for the try. Simon Brown couldn’t add the goal.
Leigh hit back with two tries in five minutes from Tommy Goulden and Stuart Littler with Nanyn kicking the goals. McDonald almost put the Eagles back in the game but his try was ruled out for obstruction.
Nanyn added a try and a goal for Leigh before Eagles benefited from the Centurions deciding to run a penalty on the stroke of half-time. McDonald intercepted a wild pass which led to Brown and Hirst sending Menzie Yere in for the try. Brown added the goal to narrow the lead to 24-10.
From the restart the Eagles lived on the edge but their gritty defence couldn’t stop Goulden claiming his second try.
Leigh were gifted the next try as the restart kick went out of play and from the penalty the defensive line was too slow getting set up and Nanyn had a free run for the try before adding the goal.
Eagles halted the Leigh charge but lost Hirst with a hamstring injury. Going into the final quarter Mitch Stringer and Yere opened the way for Tim Bergin to go in at the corner with Brown adding the goal but minutes later went off with a head injury.
Eagles snatched a bonus point with four minutes to go when McDonald followed up his own chip kick under the posts and Bergin added the goal.
Eagles: Taulapapa; Finigan, Crookes, Yere, Bergin; McDonald, Brown; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Rowe, Hepworth, Mills, Scott.
Tries: Taulapapa, 13, Yere, 40, Bergin 65, McDonad 76. Goals: Brown 2/3, Bergin 1/1 ; Leigh tries: Evans, 10, Goulden, 16,, 47, Littler, 21, Nanyn, 34 50. Goals: Nanyn 5/6