Sheffield Eagles 12 Leigh Centurions 34: Mark Aston’s men exit Challenge Cup at first hurdle
Sheffield Eagles exited the Challenge Cup at the first hurdle after a 34-12 defeat to Leigh Centurions at the Olympic Legacy Park.
Mark Aston’s side suffered their first defeat on home soil this season, as the Centurions continued their recent domination of the fixture, pulling clear of the home side in the second-half.
The Eagles couldn't find the extra gears that have taken them over the line during their previous outings at the OLP, with Leigh deservedly sealing their passage into the next round.
Leigh started the brighter of the two and opened the scoring when Mitchell Cox’s pass on the inside was picked up on the bounce by Greg McNally for the first try, converted by Martin Ridyard.
The Eagles came close with their first foray but a good move ended when Joel Farrell spilled the ball running onto a flat pass.
Leigh missed chances to increase their advantage, most notably when McNally inexplicably passed forward to Cox who was denied an easy run-in. The Centurions also had a try chalked off for obstruction after Jonny Pownall crossed in the corner.
The Eagles punished the visitors when Josh Guzdek’s glorious pass took out two Leigh defenders, allowing Ryan Millar to cross the whitewash, with Walker converting for a level game.
The visitors finished the half strongly putting daylight between the sides first through Toby Adamson’s converted try following Josh Woods’ 40/20.
After Walker went close for the Eagles, losing the ball offloading inches from the Leigh line, the visitors nicked a try just before the half-time hooter through Cox, converted by Ridyard.
The Eagles began the second-half strongly and made the early pressure count when Walker’s grubber popped up nicely for Oliver Davies who barged his way across the line. Walker converted.
Aston’s side looked to be in the ascendancy but when Millar was pushed in goal after taking a high bomb, the ball squirmed loose allowing Nick Gregson to ground for the easiest of tries. Ridyard expertly converted.
Pownall’s try on 64 minutes gave Leigh a healthy lead, and the game was effectively sealed when Same Brooks’ barnstorming run couldn’t be stopped, and Ridyard knocked over the conversion in front of the sticks.
Eagles: Guzdek; Millar, Glover, Esslemont, Blackmore; Walker, Thackeray; Knowles, G.Burns, James; Farrell, Davies; Brown. Interchange: Davey, Pick, Dixon, Taylor.
Scorers: Tries: Millar (25), Davies (52) Goals: Walker 2/2
Leigh: McNally; Pownall, I. Thornley, Cox, A, Thornley; Woods, Ridyard; Emmitt, Hood, Brooks; T. Adamson, Gregson; Cator. Interchange: Higham, Spencer, L. Adamson, O’Donnell.
Scorers: Tries: McNally (3), T. Adamson (30), Cox (40), Gregson (59), Pownall (64), Brooks (66) Goals: Ridyard 5/6
Referee: Greg Dolan