Key decisions in the first-half ended any hopes of a Sheffield Eagles shock win at Leigh Centurions, according to director Mark Aston.
With the game delicately poised referee James Child awarded the Centurions two controversial tries, which ruined any chance of an Eagles victory, and gave the hosts a platform to record a comfortable victory.
Aston’s side showed glimpses of being able to match the Championship winners, but after an apparent knock on for Leigh’s second score and a forward pass to Ryan Brierley for their fourth, a bemused Aston was left to think of what might have been. “We made mistakes and we let a couple of soft tries in, but at the end of the first-half the score was 24-10, when it should have really been 12-10,” Aston said.
“There were two tries there that absolutely 100% should not have been given. People can make mistakes, but in big games when it can cost clubs a lot of money, this shouldn’t be happening. Referees officiating two games in a weekend is not fair on them; it certainly isn’t fair on us.”
Leigh’s victory, their first of the Super 8 campaign, lifts them above the Eagles in the standings with just three games remaining. It was the third time this season that Aston’s side have been beaten by The Championship’s dominant force, but the Eagles’ chief praised his side for not giving in after a tough afternoon at Leigh.
“At the end of the day the score line doesn’t reflect the effort and the commitment shown from the boys,” he added. “There was 22 penalties awarded in the match and it wasn’t even a dirty game. It turned into a very frustrating game and we turned into a very frustrated team, but that wasn’t caused by ourselves. The try gave them the footing to get a roll on, and as a result it just took them a little bit out of our vision. That came from the first mistake which was a blatant knock on by their player going up for a ball, and then we didn’t touch the ball as they scored three tries. One of the next tries was a forward pass too.”
Aston also revealed that prop Mitch Stringer missed out on selection through injury after pulling out on the morning of the game with a cricked neck.