Sheffield Eagles 23 Leigh 22
IF Dominic Brambani does nothing more for Sheffield Eagles he will be remembered for the final seconds of the first home game of the season.
The Eagles had come back from 22-0 down to level with Northern Rail Cup holders Leigh when Brambani found space and kicked a match winning drop goal from the halfway line at Don Valley Stadium.
Eagles’ coach Mark Aston admitted it was a result that didn’t seem possible for three-quarters of the game.
He said: “Did we deserve it – ‘no’. We were poor, in the first half we were disrespectful to ourselves. There were a few choice words at half-time. Thankfully we have a player who can kick a ball and win you a game.”
Leigh had dominated the first half as the Eagles struggled to complete their sets and rarely forced their way into the Centurions final 10 metre zone.
At the other end it was siege warfare as Leigh battered the Eagles defence with half-back Martyn Ridyard the chief tormentor.
Loose forward Sam Hopkins went through a tackle before reaching out to touch down for the opening try and full back Greg McNally squeezed in by the flag.
Eagles centre Yere was put on report for a tackle on Michael Worrincy before Hopkins claimed his second try. With Ridyard kicking the goals Leigh were 18-0 up at the break. The Centurions’ increased their lead with a Ryan Brierly try 13 minutes after the restart.
Then it all started to change as Andrew Henderson and Brambani dragged the Eagles into the game and started to challenge a tiring Leigh. Second rower Alex Szostak’s determination took him over from 15 metres on the hour for the Eagles first points. Simon Brown added the goal.
Leigh’s lead was chopped further two minutes later as loose-forward Joe Hirst stormed in under the posts with Brown adding the goal. With seven minutes to go Green’s quick pass sent Sam Scott racing through a gap for the try. Brown added the goal to cut the margin to four points.
Two minutes to go and winger Vinny Finigan took Michael Knowles pass and went in at the corner. Brown couldn’t add the goal but with a draw seemingly certain up stepped Brambani.
EAGLES: Laulu-Togagae; Finigan, Yere, Taulapapa, Morrison; Brown, Brambani; Howieson, Henderson, Higgins, Scott, Knowles. Hirst. Subs: Straugheir, Green, Szostak, Hepworth.
Tries: Szostak (59) Hirst (62), Scott (73), Finigan (79).
Goals Brown 3. Brambani (drop).