Sheffield Eagles were beaten for the first time this season at the Keepmoat Stadium after a 22-36 defeat against leaders Leigh Centurions.
With 10 minutes remaining the impressive Eagles looked set to cause an upset but they let a narrow advantage slip after three late tries ensured Leigh extended their lead at the summit of the Kingstone Press Championship.
ark Aston made just one change from the side that convincingly beat Featherstone with Cory Aston coming in for Dom Brambani.
With both sides boasting impressive unbeaten streaks coming into this highly-anticipated clash, it was first blood to the Eagles who stunned the league leaders with a scintillating move. Eddie Battye made the break before handing the ball to Tony Tonks who then provided a slick offload to the recalled Aston who went over in front of the sticks. Pat Walker converted. The lead was short-lived though as Sam Barlow responded just three minutes later as both sides traded blows in an action packed opening. Martin Ridyard converted.
In a feisty encounter the Eagles refused to let their full-time opponents settle and duly re-took the lead on 24 minutes. The home side reacted quickest to confusion out of the scrum when Laulu-Togagae darted beyond the Leigh line to score in the corner for his 130th Eagles try. Walker missed the conversion.
After working so hard to get their noses in front the Eagles surrendered a soft try straight from the restart. Ridyards’s kick was allowed to bounce and Tommy Goulden took advantage of the uncertainty to seize the loose ball and wrestle his way over. Ridyard missed the conversion.
The score inspired the visitors who inched in front for the first time when Ridyard’s clever kick into space was collected by Gregg McNally who grounded under pressure. Ridyard converted.
The Eagles made the early running at the start of the second half, but it was Leigh who extended their advantage when Ridyard was taken out attempting to chase his own kick. He duly kicked the penalty to give Leigh an eight point advantage.
Menzie Yere prevented further damage after a try saving tackle on Jonathan Pownall following a Ridyard intercept, before McNally gave the hosts a sniff after seeing yellow for dissent. The Eagles took advantage of their numerical superiority when Aston fired a sublime pass out wide and Turner squeezed over to reignite the hosts. Kyle Briggs expertly converted to reduce the gap to two points.
With their tails up Aston’s side surged into the lead when a terrific pass by John Davies found Laulu-Togagae who sprinted over the line to the delight of the ‘home’ supporters. Briggs converted.
With victory in sight a crazy offload on the last from by Laulu-Togagae entered enemy hands allowing an easy run-in for Ryan Brierley. Ridyard converted.
The visitors eventually sealed their 20th consecutive victory when late scores from Jacob Emmitt and Brierley took them over the line and broke Eagles’ hearts.
Eagles: Laulu-Togagae; Turner, Yere, Smeaton, Taulapapa, Briggs, Aston, Battye, Carlile, Tonks, Knowles, Langley, Walker. Interchange: Davies, Stringer, Davey, Thorpe.
Scorers: Tries: Aston (9), Laulu-Togagae (24, 64), Turner (57) Goals: Walker 1 /2, Briggs 2/2
Leigh: McNally; Pownall, Platt, Armstrong, Kay, Ridyard, Brierley, Hock, Beswick, Emmitt, Dixon, Goulden, Barlow. Interchange: Foster, Hopkins, Aspinwall, Action.
Scorers: Tries: Barlow (12), Goulden (27), McNally (31), Brierley (69, 80), Emmitt (78) Goals: Ridyard 6/7
Referee: Michael Woodhead