Sheffield Eagles staged a great second-half comeback with winger Scott Turner completing a hat-trick of tries but suffered a heartbreak 32-24 defeat by Leigh Centurions.
It seemed Eagles were on their way to becoming the first team to beat the Championship leaders this season after they narrowed the margin to two points before the Centurions gave the final score a gloss with a try in the final minute.
Substitute hooker James Davey’s introduction gave Eagles a boost as they battled back after it seemed Leigh had the game won with a burst of three tries just before half-time.
Coach Mark Aston wasn’t happy with the refereeing decisions and added: “I’m immensely proud of my guys to lose after their efforts was a heartbreaker.”
A charge down set Leigh on the way to their 18th league win of the season with Ryan Brierley going in before adding the goal.
Patch Walker was held up over the line but Andrew Henderson’s break sent in Turner. Brambani added the goal to level the scores.
Leigh took advantage of hesitancy in the Eagles’ defence with hooker Sean Penkywicz making a quick break to send Bob Beswick over near the posts.
Three tries coming up to half-time seemed to have settled the game for the home team. Chris Hankinson had a clear run and Penkywicz put in a kick for Matt Sarsfield to cross from what looked like an offside position but Eagles were at fault as Sam Hopkins crashed over from dummy half. Brierley kicked his third goal to give Leigh a 26-6 lead at the break.
Eagles tightened up their act after the restart and the revival was launched with Eddie Battye taking a loose ball from Brierley before sending Turner racing 70 metres to score his second try.
The forwards kept up the pressure setting up the position for Davey to catch Leigh napping and race in from dummy half.
Eagles were controlling the ball and Turner completed his hat-trick from a kick by Brambani with the scrum-half adding the goals to narrow Leigh’s lead to two points.
In frantic action a tackle from Quentin Laulu-Togagae on Brierley prevented a try and Eagles forced a drop out under the posts but they couldn’t find a way through.
In the final minute Leigh got their only points of the half from former Sheffield centre Tom Armstrong and Brierley kicked his fourth goal.
* Leigh: McNally; Pownall, Hankinson, Armstrong, Kay; Beswick, Brearley; Spencer, Penkywicz, Acton, Starsfield, Goulden, Barlow. Subs: Haggerty, Hopkins, Emmitt, Aspinall.
Tries: Brierley 4, Beswick 20, Hankinson 30, Sarsfield 34, Hopkins 37, Armstrong 80. Goals: Brierley 4/6.
* Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Straugheir, Taulapapa; Walker, Brambani; Battye, Henderson, Stringer, Garside, Hope, Knowles. Subs: Davey, Tagaloa, Aspinall, Gonzalez-Trique.
Tries: Turner , 11, 51, 63, Davey 55. Goals: Brambani 4/4.
Referee: Warren Turley.