Cory Aston didn’t deserve to see red was the view of Eagles director of rugby Mark Aston, after a third-minute sending-off set the tone for a crushing 58-18 defeat to Leigh Centurions.
The Eagles came into the top-of-the-table clash in good form, but were left a mountain to climb after St Helens official Michael Woodhead deemed Aston’s tackle on Adam Higson worthy enough of a red card.
Astons questions red card as Eagles fall against leaders
Leigh, with only one defeat all season, took full advantage of the extra man, bagging 10 tries as they maintained their lead in the Kingstone Press Championship table.
“It didn’t look great but is it a straight red?Aston said to The Star.
“I don’t think it was malicious; there was nothing in it for me. He picked him and went to ground with him and then the player got straight up and carried on. We are playing in a top-of-the-table clash. Is it fitting to put the right officials in that role? I don’t know him well, but it is probably one of the biggest games of the season.”
Woodhead also held the whistle for the reverse fixture back at the Keepmoat Stadium earlier in the campaign, where he angered Aston after awarding a disputed try to the Centurions in a close encounter.
Aston felt his side could have done more in a game where they had their moments, despite being a man light for almost the full 80 minutes.
“It was a hard pill to swallow because I spoke last week saying if we didn’t do better then we would come unstuck - and it is in games like this when we have,” he added. “The sending-off isn’t an excuse. We should still have been able to compete.”
There could be more bad news for Aston with Sam Smeaton going on report after a challenge in the build-up to Leigh’s ninth try. After Gregg McNally sent to ball to Liam Kay for his hat-trick, he was tackled by Smeaton, resulting in him being stretchered off, and the Eagles’ centre could now face a ban if charged by a disciplinary panel.