Leigh Centurions 42 Sheffield Eagles 38: Eagles left stunned by Leigh’s late show
Sheffield Eagles slipped to an agonising 42-38 defeat after being well set for a notable victory at Leigh Centurions, following a late try blitz from the hosts.
With just 10 minutes remaining, Mark Aston’s side held a 14-point advantage, but three late tries turned the game in Leigh’s favour as the Eagles saw victory snatched away from them by a clinical Centurions outfit.
It is back-to-back defeats now for the Eagles, with Leigh moving level on points with Aston’s side after their late success.
It was Leigh who made the early running through Andy Thornley’s converted try, but the Eagles soon found their form.
They were on the board when Ben Blackmore provided the platform with a quick-fire break, with Aaron Brown providing the finish, converted by James Glover.
The Eagles’ defence was placed under further scrutiny after the hosts won back-to-back penalties, and shortly after the visitors lost James Davey who saw yellow for a tip-tackle.
Leigh made their numerical advantage count, as Gregg McNally crossed for a converted score, but it would be the Eagles who finished the half stronger.
Aston’s side responded when Anthony Thackeray’s sublime kick was collected by Blackmore who crossed the whitewash, and Glover’s conversion hit the post before going over.
There was more to follow when Brown’s incisive break set Oliver Davies up the middle. With Leigh chasing shadows, the ball was sent to wide to Ryan Millar who dived over. Glover missed the extras.
On the stroke of half-time, the Eagles were in again. Davey’s break gave the visitors good position, and after he broke out of the tackle, he found Glover for an unconverted score.
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Leigh bagged back-to-back converted tries at the start of the second stanza through Ryan Brierley and Iain Thornley, but the Eagles would not be silenced.
Thackeray produced a textbook shimmy to dart over the line after Blackmore’s break, and Pat Walker converted.
Five minutes later, the Eagles extended their lead as Walker’s grubber allowed James Meadows to touch down for a converted try.
It got better for Aston’s side after poor defending allowed Thackeray in for his second converted try, but the hosts reduced the arrears through James Laithwaite’s converted score.
It looked as though the Eagles would hold out, but late converted tries from Josh Eaves and James Hood broke the hearts of the visitors late on.
Leigh: Brierley; McNally, I. Thornley, A. Thornley, Higginson; Ridyard, Woods; Douglas, Higham, Brooks; Adamson, Laithwaite; Cator. Interchange: Hood, Eaves, Emmitt, Spencer.
Scorers: Tries: A. Thornley (5), McNally (30), Brierley (43), I. Thornley (46), Laithwaite (70), Eaves (75), Hood (78) Goals: Ridyard 7/7
Eagles: Guzdek; Millar, Glover, Ogden, Blackmore; Meadows, Thackeray; Moran, Davey, James; Davies, Farrell; Brown. Interchange: Walker, Broadbent, Esslemont, Knowles.
Scorers: Tries: Brown (20), Blackmore (34), Millar (36), Glover (39), Thackeray (54, 64), Meadows (59) Goals: Glover 2/4, Walker 3/3