SHEFFIELD Eagles are in their first ever Championship Grand Final after a shock win at Leigh.
The Eagles put in a massive defensive performance with props Jack Howieson and Mitch Stringer excellent in a game where tries were always at a premium to put out the team that had beaten them twice in the league this season.
Centre Menzie Yere returned to the Eagles team after a two-match ban and created the try that set up the win from Vinny Finigan.
Both packs battled for control early in the game and the deadlock was broken with a penalty for the Eagles midway through the first half kicked by Simon Brown from 45 metres. Eagles were at last getting their hands on the ball and enjoying their best spell as half-time approached.
After a penalty the Eagles built up the pressure and Laulu-Togagae, Alex Szostak and Yere were held on the line before the ball was switched wide to create the first try of the game. Dane McDonald flashed the ball right and back row forward Sam Scott took it on the burst to go under the posts. Brown added the goal.
With two minutes left Joe Hirst was held on the line as the Eagles went in 8-0 ahead.
Eagles had an early scare after the restart as Leigh’s full back Stuart Donlan finished off a passing move for a try awarded by the video ref for the game live on Sky Sports. Mick Nanyn added the two points from the touchline. It was a critical time for the Eagles as Leigh had stepped up a gear and only desperate defending kept them out.
Eagles hit back with Yere breaking free and bursting the Leigh line before passing outside to winger Finigan who swept in for the try with Brown adding the goal.
Leigh’s Adam Higson was injured attempting to tackle Yere and was stretchered off after being treated on the pitch for 10 minutes.
The injury seemed to deflate Leigh and from Andrew Henderson’s break Quentin Laulu-Togagae squeezed in for a try to extend the lead. Brown added a touchline conversion.
With seven minutes left Leigh gave themselves hope with an unconverted try from Nanyn but Eagles kept control and finished the stronger.
Eagles will face Featherstone Rovers in the Grand Final, at Warrington, on Sunday October 2.
Leigh: Donlan; Maden, Higson, Nanyn, McGilvray; Ridyard, Ellis; Hill, Duffy, Mills, Thornley, Littler, Taylor. Subs: Armstrong, Hunter-Paul, Hopkins, Nash.
Tries: Donlan, 43, Nanyn, 73, Goals: Nanyn 1/ 2
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Finigan, Taulapapa, Yere, Bergin; McDonald, Brown; Howieson, Henderson, Stringer, Szostak, Green, Hirst. Subs: Hanson, Smith, Scott, Hepworth.
Tries: Scott, 32, Finigan, 53, Laulu-Togagae, 56. Goals: Brown 4/4.