LEIGH'S Wembley dream became a soggy nightmare as former Centurion Jack Owens contributed eight vital points in Vikings’ AB Sundecks 1895 Cup semi-final win.

Owens scored the crucial try 14 minutes from time for Danny Craven inspired Widnes and also booted two goals.

Adam Higson’s 75th minute touchdown gave John Duffy’s men late hope but when Junior Sa’u knocked on in front of the North Stand in the final seconds, the game was up.

“I am gutted for everyone involved at the club,” said coach Duffy.

“But you have got to perform in the big games and unfortunately in the second half we didn’t do enough with the ball to create anything.

“I expected us to play more when we were on top but we didn’t. We didn’t offer much at all.

“We got over their try line twice but dropped the ball. You expect your big players to be on it but they weren’t.

“Then we got burned twice off plays by Danny Craven who we had done a lot of work on. That’s ultimately what cost us.”

Craven had a hand in both tries as Widnes came from 2-0 and 4-2 down to record a seventh win in the last eight encounters between the teams.

It always promised to be a tight affair and with persistent rainfall there were never likely to be many try scoring opportunities.

Indeed, penalties from Ryan Brierley and Owens produced the only points of an opening period.

They were just two of the 18 doled out in the opening 40 minutes by referee Ben Thaler who also sin binned Centurion, Mitch Clark, and Jordan Johnstone of Widnes, after just two minutes following a mass bust-up.

There were regular lectures for respective skippers with Leigh fans believing greater punishment should have been handed down for challenges on Higson and Brierley.

Respective wingers Higson and Vikings’ Ryan Ince went closest to tries but both were bundled into touch fractionally short.

Brierley’s second penalty restored Leigh’s lead early in the second half before two tries in 12 minutes broke the tie open.

Craven’s break initiated the first before Johnstone’s crossfield kick was poached by the unmarked Anthony Gelling to dab down. Owens improved.

Then, Leigh were forced to drop out after a Craven bomb before the Vikings playmaker sent Owens racing through to score.

Higson’s try gave Leigh late hope but even after Gelling’s fumble near his own line, Sa’u knocked on early in the tackle count to finally extinguish home hopes.

Match stats;

McNally; Higson, I Thornley, Sa’u, Marsh; Ridyard, Brierley; Douglas, Higham, Clark, T Adamson, Batchelor, Cator; substitutes: Hood, Thompson, Emmitt, L Adamson.

Tries: Higson (75)

Goals: Brierley (2)


Owens; Ince, Gelling, Brand, Ah Van; Craven, Lyons; J Chapelhow, Johnstone, Norman, Wildie, Dean, Walker; substitutes: T Chapelhow, Leuluai, Hansen, Ashall-Bott.

Tries: Gelling (54), Owens (66)

Goals: Owens (2)

Referee: Ben Thaler

Half-time: 2-2

Attendance: 4,640