Leigh Centurions 28-34 Hull KR
Hull Kingston Rovers travelled to the winless Leigh Centurions on Sunday evening. The Red and Whites were expected to register a comfortable victory, even without key men Jordan Abdull and Adam Quinlan. Both picked up injuries in the defeat by Catalans on Monday night. It was far from easy for Tony Smith’s men who were down to 11 men for a short stage during the second half.
It was a bad start for the Robins. The host broke almost directly from kick-off, some expansive rugby found Junior Sa’u to walk in at the corner. Minutes later backrower Dean Hadley left the field in some discomfort with a dislocated shoulder. It was far from going to plan for the Robins with Leigh looking the better side for the opening exchanges. Rowan Milnes returning to the half-back birth snuck a little grubber kick through for Kane Linnett to slide over from short range. Milnes again providing some quality with a lofted cross-field kick to Takairangi, who caught and passed the high ball in one movement allowing Greg Minikin to cross the line. The lively hooker Matt Parcell broke Leigh line setting KR in an excellent position for captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall to touchdown from a Mikey Lewis pass. It was Lewis himself scoring the next try with some good agility to maneuverer through the defensive line. It could have been a more convincing 24-4 lead if Ben Crooks had kicked all his conversions. Instead, a Craig Mullen try on the stroke of half-time took the game back to just eight points.
The second half started how Tony Smith would have hoped. Albert Vete crashed over from short range for his first try in Red and White. From that point Rovers unravelled, first Vete threw a high shot at a Leigh player and resulting in a deserved sin-binning. Adam Sidlow scored under the sticks, taking full advantage of the man advantage. Korbin Sims was lucky to stay on the field with another high shot as the Robins lost all discipline in defence. Referee Chris Kendall had no choice but to reduce the visitors to 11 men after George Lawler made another high tackle. Having two extra players allowed Leigh to play expansive rugby, Junior Sa’u crossed for his second try of the game. The Centurions looked in control, helped by slack defending, Adam Sidlow diving over from short range for his brace. The hosts led for the second time in the game. Having played the majority of the second half at least a man short KR looked tired at times. Some excellent play by Kenny-Dowall, dragging two defenders over the line with him. This put the sides on level pegging with less than 15 minutes left. KR scored with seven minutes to go, Ryan Hall the scorer after some quick hands across the line. It could have been far more comfortable but Crooks, who is not a regular goal kicker, missed four of seven
The Robins can count themselves lucky to have won the game. Leigh did not look like a side that had lost all 15 games this season. For a neutral, it would have been a thrilling watch.
Reported by: Simon Bromwich
Leigh Centurions 28 (10)
Tries: Sa’u 2, Mullen, Sidlow 2. Goals: Mullen 4
Hull KR 34 (18)
Tries: Linnett, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall 2, Lewis, Vete, Hall. Goals: Crooks 3.