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Leigh Leopards entered the Challenge Cup still seeing their first win of 2024 after a disappointing start to the season and were up against Championship side Featherstone Rovers who have also had a mixed start to the season including last weekend’s loss against the Batley Bulldogs.

Leigh were without Gareth O’Brien but relieved that Lachlan Lam was back on the subs bench after suffering a gashed leg against the Rhinos a fortnight ago and they were up against a side who have been dogged by off field problems in the opening weeks of the new season.

Leigh were massive favourites for a big win, Featherstone given a thirty-two-point start n the handicap coupon, the visitors were on a hiding to nothing.

Just over two minutes had passed when Leigh dealt the first blow with fast hands to the right with Zak Hardaker finding Umyla Hanley to dive in at the corner. Matt Moylan pushed his conversion across the face of the goal in strong wind.

Featherstone levelled the scores on nineteen with a sensational try with Manoa Wacokecoke breaking for seventy metres to outpace the chasing Leigh players and score in the right corner. Thomas Lacans gave his kick every chance, but it landed well short of the posts in a near impossible wind. Rovers had withstood the Leigh onslaught and returned with interest.

He scores were level for none minutes before Hanley got his second, dancing his way through the Featherstone defence after taking a tip pass from Jack Hughes and managing to improve the angle.  Moylan was on target to extend the advantage to six points.

Featherstone’s McKensie Yei was sin-binned on thirty-four for a dangerous lift to increase the difficult level for the visitors and Hanley completed his hat-trick on thirty-seven, further exploiting the Featherstone left defence, as he took a delayed pass from Moylan to score another walk-in try.

It hadn’t been the walk in the park that the pundits had forecast, Featherstone putting up stronger opposition than had been expected.

On forty-four the twelve men scored their second try of the game when Wacokecoke intercepted a Ben McNamara pass to sprint another sixty metres and ground. This time Lacans added the conversion from wide to 10-14, Featherstone back within striking distance.

On forty-nine the Leopards re-established their lead with Lachlan Lam instrumental in a move which saw the ball through half a dozen pairs of hands before Josh Carnley grounded in the corner in spectacular fashion. The conversion attempt was well wide, the lead eight points.

The game was moving towards Leigh when they went in again on fifty-three, Matt Moylan running the line and then rounding the full back Aekins to dot the ball down one-handed. Moylan was able to convert his own try for 24-10, Featherstone needing three converted tries.

Owen Trout had a try ruled out on sixty-seven for a forward pass as the Leigh fans celebrated the win.

With nine minutes of the game remaining, Rovers scored their third try thanks to a great elusive break from Paul Turner before the ball went through several pairs of hands for Gareth Gale to score in the corner. Connor Wynne attempted the conversion but was wide with his attempt.

Leigh kicked a penalty goal after the full time hooter for a 26-14 victory.

While it is the cup holders Leigh Leopards whose name goes into the hat for the quarter finals draw on Monday, Featherstone Rovers will be delighted with their performance and that they were in the game right up until the end of the game. Lachlan Lam made a big difference when he entered the fray from the substitutes bench and a couple of dazzling moves put the home side beyond visitors.

Leigh Leopards: Brand, Hanley (3T), Hardaker, Leutele, Charnley (T), Moylan (T, 3G), McNamara, Norman, Davis, Mulhern, O’Donnell, Halton, Hughes. Subs: Trout, Nakubuwai, Holmes, Lam. 18th Man: Chamberlain.

Featherstone Rovers: Aekins, Wacokecoke (2T), Hardcastle, Minikin, Gale, Bowes, Lacans, Springer, Jones, Albert, Day, Tomlinson, Addy.  Subs: Turner, Yei (SB on 36), Wynne, England. 18th Man: Farrar.

Half-Time: 14-4.

Full-Time: 26-14.

Score Progression: 4-0, 4-4, 8-4, 10-4, (SB), 14-4 : HT: 14-8, 14-10 , 18-10, 22-10, 24-10, 24-14, 26-14 :FT.

Lead Exchanges: Leigh – Square – Leigh.

Referee: Jack Smith.



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Posted by RLFANS News Hound on Sat 23rd Mar 2024 3:47 PM | Views : 5199 | Replies : 0 | BACK TO STORIES