Sheffield Eagles failed to build on their recent Super 8s success as they went down to a comprehensive defeat to Leigh Centurions at the Leigh Sports Village.
The Eagles surrendered sixth place in the Super 8s table to the Centurions as Mark Aston’s side were outplayed by their full-time opponents, despite showing signs that they might run the Championship league winners close during the first-half.
The Eagles have three games of the Super 8s remaining, all against Super League opposition, after falling to defeat against Paul Rowley’s Leigh for the third time this season.
There was one change for Sheffield, with Tony Tonks replacing Mitch Stringer and young Connor Scott earning a place on the bench.
The Eagles made a solid start but found themselves behind after 11 minutes when the evergreen Mickey Higham darted over from dummy half, with Martin Ridyard adding the extras.
Aston’s side then benefited from Ridyard spending time in the sin-bin, when James Davey powered over after a smart offload by Eddie Battye, and Pat Walker kicked the extras.
With the game nicely poised, the Eagles lost their way as the home side gained control of proceedings. In controversial circumstances Andrew Dixon grounded over the line after a chip to the corner, despite suspicions of a knock-on, and the returning Ridyard converted.
There was nothing suspect about Higham’s scintillating break moments later before he handed over to Ryan Brierley to score, and Ridyard again added the two.
More controversy followed when Jonny Pownall appeared to offload forward for Brierley who ran in his second try, which was again converted by Ridyard.
The Eagles stemmed the flow before the break and gave themselves a lifeline when Scott Turner gathered Dominic Brambani’s kick to the corner, before spinning away from Pownall to score. Walker missed the conversion.
The Eagles looked bright after the restart but any hopes of a comeback were quickly quashed when Liam Kay completed a fast flowing move, picking the ball off his bootlaces to score. Ridyard converted.
The Eagles could have hit straight back but they failed to capitalise on an overlap with Sam Smeaton’s pass failing to find Rob Worrincy. They were then punished when the destructive Fuifui Moimoi barged his way over under the sticks and Ridyard converted.
Leigh were now sensing a big score but the Eagles kept in touch when a sloppy pass from Higham was intercepted by Smeaton who was left with an easy run-in, and Walker converted.
Leigh’s response was emphatic when Michael Knowles’ pass was grasped by Brierley who ran 90 metres for his hat-trick, but Ridyard missed the conversion attempt.
There were further scores late on from Tommy Goulden and Gregg McNally, both converted by Ridyard, as Leigh passed 50 points for their first victory of their Super 8 campaign.
Leigh: McNally; Pownall, Worthington, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Moimoi, Higham, Emmitt, Dixon, Goulden, Acton. Interchange: Reynolds, Wilkes, Spencer, Aspinwall.
Tries: Higham (11), Dixon (27), Brierley (30, 33, 62), Kay (49), Moimoi (57) Goulden (67), McNally (72) Goals: Ridyard 8/9.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Worrincy, Brambani, Aston, Battye, Carlile, Tonks, Knowles, Straugheir, Walker. Interchange: Davey, Davies, Taulapapa, Scott.
Tries: Davey (23), Tuner (39), Smeaton (58) Goals: Walker 1/2, Brambani 1/1.
Referee: James Child.