Leigh 14 – 17 Leeds

Leigh Centurions’ first Betfred Super League game at Leigh Sports Village went down to the wire, but they missed out marking the historic occasion with a win.

A thrilling game was decided by fine margins as the Rhiinos went back over the Pennines with the spoils.

In a nerve shredding finish Atelea Vea was held up close to the line after Ben Crooks had also been desperately close to the clinching score.

Head Coach Neil Jukes said: “It was a big improvement but I’m really disappointed with the result. We hung in there for long enough and I thought there were two big moments at the end on our right edge, where we needed to pass the ball.

“They are fine margins and we’ve got to make sure we take them. We’re going to have to win some tight games and to do that we’ve got to nail the plays when they are presented to us.”

Already without injured skipper Micky Higham and vice-captain Glenn Stewart, Leigh lost Gareth Hock with a dead leg early in the game.

French international prop Antoni Maria had a fine game on debut, earning Heritage Number #1425 but was forced off with a shoulder injury.

“I thought we did it tough,” Jukes added. “We lost Gareth Hock after 13 minutes and he wasn’t able to return and we lost Jamie Acton to the sin bin.

“But I thought we learned some lessons from last week. We are not a million miles off. While Leeds had a difficult season last year, they are going to be up there this year.”

Leigh made a great start with early tries by Matty Dawson and Mitch Brown setting LSV alight. But the Rhinos’ response was clinical as Adam Cuthbertson and Ryan Hall crossed in an inspired three-minute spell before Jimmy Keinhorst went in at the corner.

Liam Sutcliffe kicked one conversion, added a 40m drop-goal on the stoke of half-time and posted the first points of a tight second half with a penalty on the hour-mark while Acton was in the sin bin.

Crooks hauled the Centurions back in the game as he crashed over with 12 minutes remaining, Ben Reynolds converting but Rhinos just held out.

As the pre-match fireworks drifted away into the night sky, Leigh’s hopes of a first win over Leeds for 29 years also went up in smoke.

But they have much to build on before St Helens make their first appearance at LSV next Friday (8pm).

Leigh Centurions Man of the Match was French international hooker Eloi Pelissier.

 

Leigh Centurions: Mitch Brown; Adam Higson, Ben Crooks, Willie Tonga, Matty Dawson; Ben Reynolds, Josh Drinkwater; Gareth Hock, Eloi Pelissier, Antoni Maria, Cory Paterson, Atelea Vea, Harrison Hansen (C ).
Interchange: Ryan Hampshire, Sam Hopkins, Jamie Acton, Danny Tickle.

Tries: Dawson (5), Brown (8), Crooks (68);
Goals: Reynolds 1/ 3.

Leeds Rhinos: Ashton Golding; Tom Briscoe, Callum Watkins, Jimmy Keinhorst, Ryan Hall; Liam Sutcliffe, Rob Burrow; Anthony Mullaley, Matt Parcell, Brad Singleton, Stevie Ward, Carl Ablett, Jamie Jones-Buchanan.
Interchange: Danny McGuire, Adam Cuthbertson, Josh Walters, Jack Ormondroyd.

Tries: Cuthbertson (12), Hall (14), Keinhorst (34);
Goals: Sutcliffe 2/4; Drop-goal: Sutcliffe.

Referee: Jack Smith;
Attendance: 6,692;
Half-time: 8-15.
Main Match Sponsor: BCEGI
Associate Sponsor: Dootsons Solicitors
Match ball Sponsor; Astley Hire
Programme Sponsor: GCS
Leigh Centurions Man of the Match: Eloi Pelissier

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