Hull KR 14 Leigh Centurions 10

JOHN Duffy was left wondering what might have been as two tries in the last eight minutes denied Leigh a place in the last 16 of the Coral Challenge Cup.

Winger Ryan Shaw and then Craig Hall crossed in quick succession to spare the blushes of the Super League outfit with Leigh desperately defending a 10-4 lead.

Jonny Pownall and Joe Cator-against his former club-had touched down in the opening 22 minutes.

And Cator thought he’d scored again in the third quarter only for referee Liam Moore to seemingly overrule the decision of an in-goal touch judge.

Instead of leading 16-4, Leigh were forced to repel waves of Rovers attacks until they finally cracked eight minutes from time.

“Effort and desire wise I thought we were outstanding,” said proud coach Duffy.

“To hold a full-time team just four days after we have played was a fantastic effort.

“I just want to commend our boys for their efforts. To come and give a display like that for 80 minutes against a Super League side should stand us in good stead for the rest of the season.

“But I will have to look at some of those calls. It was given a try by the in-goal tough judge but then deemed a knock on. It probably decided the game.

"I am sorry we couldn’t get the win for the fans who came over but we produced a fantastic effort."

Leigh made a perfect start to the tie with Gregg McNally sending in Pownall for the winger’s sixth try of the season.

Martyn Ridyard couldn’t add the extras from out wide but was on target when Centurions crossed for a second touchdown 16 minutes later.

And it was a mark of respect for their former player when home fans even applauded Joe Cator’s try against his old club following good approach by Sam Brooks.

Rovers fielded a strong side as they looked to build on the previous week’s Super League home win over Leeds Rhinos.

But even destroyer-in-chief Danny McGuire found it tough to break through some resolute visitors’ defence.

Referee Liam Moore awarded 10 first half penalties and from the 10th, Rovers found a way back into the game.

Hall’s inside ball eventually did the damage with centre Jimmy Keinhorst touching down. Hall slid his conversion attempt wide of the uprights while Josh Woods fluffed his lines with a drop goal attempt before the hooter.

Leigh continued to fall on the wrong side of the penalty ledger giving Rovers even more impetus at the start of the second period.

Fortunately, the home side was still misfiring, characterised by Weller Hauraki’s failed juggling act after McGuire’s pass sent him over the try line.

Finally, after five successive penalties against them, Leigh got two-in-a row to temporarily ease the pressure.

They also thought they had scored a third try after 55 minutes but Mr Moore adjudged Cator hadn’t grounded from Micky Higham’s assist.

Leigh were forced into heroic defence as Rovers poured forward desperate to avoid a cup upset.

They were placed on a team warning after 63 minutes before Ridyard missed a penalty of their own from 45 metres which, if successful, would have left Hull KR two scores behind.

Leigh were finally undone seven minutes from time. Drinkwater’s angled crossfield kick was claimed by Hall before Shaw went over.

Then Keinhorst spreadeagled the part-timers’ tiring defence before sending in Hall under the posts for Shaw to goal.

Match stats

Hull KR: Dagger; Shaw, Keinhorst, Crooks, Hall; Drinkwater, McGuire; Mulhern, Lee, Lawler, Linnett, Tomkins, Hauraki; substitutes: Atkin, Addy, Vaivai, Harrison.

Tries: Keinhorst (36), Shaw (72), Hall (76)

Goals: Hall 0/2, Shaw 1/1

Leigh: McNally; Pownall, I Thornley, Cox, Marsh; Ridyard, Woods; Brooks, Higham, L Adamson, T Adamson, A Thornley, Cator; substitutes: O’Donnell, Emmitt, Spencer, Gregson.

Tries: Pownall (6), Cator (22)

Goals: Ridyard 1/3

Referee: Liam Moore

Half-time: 4-10

Attendance: 2188