Leeds Rhinos 25 Leigh Centurions 12
A COMBATIVE performance from Centurions was not enough to stretch their club record winning run to 17 games and overcome Super League opposition.
Not through lack of effort, they came within seven minutes of a Tetleyﾒs Challenge Cup quarter-final upset in Leeds Rhinosﾒ back yard.
At that stage the game was locked at 12-12 with the Centurions laying siege to the Rhinos line.
The otherwise excellent Sean Penkywicz ran from dummy half and offloaded left, but Leigh had lost Tom Armstrong to injury and the ball trickled behind men only for Leeds to clear their line.
Roared on by a huge following, Centurions were getting forward on the back of an effective kicking game from Martyn Ridyard.
Leeds opened their account after six minutes, however, when Ryan Hall touched down.
Centurions hit back after 12 minutes when Tom Spencer charged over the line and Ridyard goaled, before Kurt Haggerty skied a kick, Liam Kay contested and got the better of Tom Briscoe before flicking the ball out for Armstrong to slide over at the corner.
Ridyard added his second conversion and Leighﾒs defence then held firm through Matt Sarsfield and Armstrong.
A chip over the top was re-gathered by Ridyard and he found half-back partner Ryan Brierley steaming up in support only for the 27-try man to be hauled down close to the line.
Liam Sutcluffe saw a try disallowed for obstruction for the hosts and Leeds gradually worked their way into position for Stevie Ward to go over, awarded on the video refereeﾒs call.
With Leeds picking up more momentum, Centurionsﾒ tenacity shone through with a defensive stint that frustrated Rhinos into errors.
As time ticked down on the first half, Ryan Brierley attempted a drop goal which went wide and the sides went in 12-all at the interval.
The second half erupted with a dust up that earned Sarsfield and Jamie Peacock a spell in the sin-bin, but after some magic hands by Ridyard Oliver Wilkes could not ground.
Tommy Goulden then slid a kick to the corner that was an inch too deep for Johnny Pownall, before a timely intercept by Sutcliffe saved another chance.
Rhinosﾒ Peacock stormed through the middle but Leigh held Leeds at bay. Next came the loss of Armstrong, allied to Adam Higson going off in the first half, but Leigh still took the game to the Rhinos into the final minutes.
The Penkywicz offload was picked up by Leeds and they ended the set with Robbie Ward scooting between the posts.
Kevin Sinfield converted and then dropped a goal to make the game safe and save the Super League giants blushes.
There was enough time near the end for Peacock to send Hardaker striding over from 20 metres with Sinfield adding his fourth goal to make it 25-12.
Centurions: McNally; Pownall, Higson, Armstrong, Kay; Ridyard, Brierley; Spencer, Penkywicz, Wilkes, Sarsfield, Haggerty, Barlow. Subs: Beswick, Emmitt, Goulden, Duffy.