Leigh Centurions bowed out of the Coral Challenge Cup at the fifth round stage with their heads held high after a late heartbreak at KCOM Craven Park.
John Duffy’s side held the lead from the sixth minute of a pulsating cup-tie when Jonny Pownall dived over by the flag until the 74th when ex-Centurion Craig Hall scored the match-winning try for the Super League side.
“I thought it was a fantastic effort from our guys,” Duffy said. “Four days after our game against Barrow all our lads have been at work all day and probably not eaten well, so to jump on the bus and perform like that was outstanding.
“We pulled up just short and I’ll have to have a close look at some of those calls. But I just want to commend our boys for their efforts to come and give a display like that for 80 minutes. That performance should stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.
“To bring that passion back for the jersey is maybe something that’s been lacking in recent seasons and I’m just sorry we couldn’t reward our travelling fans for all the efforts they’ve made to get over here on a Thursday night. But we can be proud of our efforts.
“We’ve got two massive games coming up over Easter now against Widnes and Dewsbury and if we turn up each game with an attitude like that, I don’t think we will go far wrong all season.”
Pownall supplied a great finish by the flag after Gregg McNally joined the line to good effect and when Joe Cator, outstanding against his former club, burst over from Martyn Ridyard’s short ball for Ridyard to convert the visitors had a 10-0 lead.
Superb defence maintained that until Hall’s inside pass unlocked the close-range defence for Jimmy Keinhorst to cross in the corner just before half-time.
Leigh withstood wave after wave of Rovers attacks in the second half, often defending repeat sets with heroic tackling. And in isolated attacks they almost sealed the tie. Cator looked to have gone over midway through the second half only for referee Liam Moore to apparently over-rule the in-goal touch-judge. And a 48-metre penalty attempt by Ridyard with 14 minutes remaining just fell short of the target.
With eight minutes remaining Ryan Shaw crossed in the corner after a Josh Drinkwater kick but Hall failed to convert from the touch-line. But two minutes Hall Keinhort’s break and inside pass sent Hall over for the winner.
Hull KR: Will Dagger; Ryan Shaw, Ben Crooks, Jimmy Keinhorst, Craig Hall; Josh Drinkwater, Danny McGuire; Robbie Mulhern, Tommy Lee, George Lawler; Joel Tomkins, Kane Linnett, Weller Hauraki.
Interchanges: Chris Atkin, Owen Harrison, Junior Vaivai, Danny Addy.
Tries: Keinhorst (37), Shaw (72), Hall (74).
Goals: Shaw 1/1, Hall 0/2.
Sin bin: Shaw (79).
Leigh Centurions: Gregg McNally; Jonny Pownall, Mitch Cox, Iain Thornley, Stefan Marsh; Martyn Ridyard, Josh Woods; Sam Brooks, Micky Higham, Luke Adamson; Toby Adamson, Andy Thornley, Joe Cator.
Interchanges: Nick Gregson, Dec O’Donnell, Tom Spencer, Jake Emmitt.
Tries: Pownall (6), Cator (22).
Goals: Ridyard 1/ 3.
Referee: Liam Moore.
Penalty count: 14-11.