Sheffield Eagles 18 Leigh Centurions 22: Top five hopes hit as dramatic comeback falls just short
Sheffield Eagles’ top five hopes suffered a setback despite almost pulling off a notable comeback in their 22-18 defeat to Leigh Centurions.
The Eagles were within four points of their fellow high-flyers during the closing stages, but were denied a stirring comeback after a knock on close to the Leigh line late on.
The hosts were in the ascendancy during the final quarter, but Leigh held out to open up a vital cushion inside the Championship’s top five, with the Eagles facing a crucial showdown with York on Friday.
The Centurions broke the hosts’ resistance on 26 minutes when a jinking run from wide from Liam Forsyth ended in a try, and Martin Ridyard converted.
The Eagles responded instantly when Walker produced a sublime 40/20, and on the next play Thackeray dummied his way straight through the Leigh line to score. Walker converted.
Leigh were back in front through an unconverted score by Ryan Brierley, holding a slim four point advantage at the break.
The Eagles found themselves under pressure again at the start of the second stanza, but Joel Farrell expertly held up Jordan Thompson when he looked set to score.
Forsyth’s second converted try gave the visitors some breathing space, as the Centurions sensed an opportunity to move clear.
The next score would be crucial, and it went to the hosts when the ball quickly changed hands from James Meadows, Thackeray and Josh Guzdek before Ben Blackmore dived over in the corner for an unconverted try.
Inside the final quarter, Leigh established another important gap after Ridyard barged over after Liam Hood’s pass for a converted try, and the game should have been all over moments later but Thompson’s wild pass to Joshua Simms was forward when it seemed a try was a certainty.
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The miss presented the hosts a lifeline, and a barnstorming Farrell break ended with a pass to Ryan Millar who dived over in the corner. Meadows missed a tough conversion.
The match was given a grandstand finish when Thackeray threw the pass wide for Blackmore to bag his second try, but Meadows missed another tough conversion as the Eagles fell just short.
Meadows was then sent off after the final hooter.
Eagles: Guzdek; Millar, Ogden, Crookes, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Moran, Davey, Knowles; Farrell, Davies; Brown. Interchange: Meadows, P. Burns, Mason, Adebiyi.
Scorers: Tries: Thackeray (30), Blackmore (57, 75), Millar (68) Goals: Walker 1/2, Meadows 0/2
Leigh: Brierley; Costello, I. Thornley, Simms, Forsyth; Ridyard, Woods; Spencer, Higham, L. Adamson; T. Adamson, A. Thornley; Cator. Interchange: Hood, Paterson, Thompson, Hock.
Scorers: Tries: Forsyth (26, 51), Brierley (34), Ridyard (63) Goals: Ridyard 3/4
Referee: Michael Mannifield