Leigh Centurions 34-10 Sheffield Eagles
Sunday 29th July 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 23
Ricky Bailey, Ilias Bergal 3, Matty Dawson 2, William Dagger,
Jack Owens 3,
James Bentley, Cory Aston,
Sheffield Eagles ended their Betfred Championship campaign with a 34-10 loss away at Leigh Centurions.
The Eagles more than matched their opponents in the first 40 minutes as Mark Aston’s side went into the sheds 10-4 to the good.
But Leigh upped the ante after the restart and kept Sheffield scoreless while notching six tries to pull away from the visitors.
Sheffield made two changes from their comfortable victory over Barrow last time out. Matty Costello and Paddy Burns were replaced by Oscar Thomas and Oliver Davies.
Leigh put pressure on the Eagles line in the opening exchanges but the defence held firm, a feature of the part-timers’ first half performance.
Sheffield kept completing sets in the early going and that in turn brought more territory through a goal-line dropout.
Despite not scoring from the next set, the Eagles were going toe-to-toe with their full-time counterparts and got their reward when James Bentley crashed over on 18 minutes.
Thomas couldn’t convert.
What followed can only be described as a ‘knock-on-a-thon’. Six knock-ons in as many sets, all taking place inside the Eagles half, saw the game become scrappy until Corey Makelim cleared Sheffield's lines with a kick.
The Eagles extended their lead six minutes from the break with a magnificent team try which saw the ball go through several pairs of hands.
Ben Blackmore’s pass to Cory Aston set the Castleford loanee away before he fed Iliess Macani, the winger cut through the Centurions defence and offloaded back to Aston who went in at the corner.
Thomas was on target with the conversion attempt to give Sheffield a 10-0 advantage.
Unfortunately for the South Yorkshire club, their effort to keep Leigh on a blank ended with 40 seconds of the first half remaining as Ricky Bailey swooped in.
Ben Reynolds fired his conversion wide after the hooter had sounded.
An Eagles knock-on during the first set after the break gave Leigh a boost but Sheffield’s defence stood strong at first.
Mike Weldon came close to regaining Sheffield’s two-score lead but he knocked on close to the Leigh whitewash.
Ilias Bergal cut the gap to just two points with his first of three tries. Ex-Eagle Jack Owens failed to add the extras.
On 52 minutes, Matty Dawson-Jones gave Leigh their first lead of the afternoon with Owens converting.
Sheffield were looking for an equaliser and Makelim came closest but the USA international fumbled the ball deep in enemy territory.
Bergal completed his hat-trick with four-pointers either side of the hour mark as the deficit stretched to three scores.
Will Dagger and Dawson-Jones both crossed as the Centurions ended a tough week with a win.
The Eagles left the Leigh Sports Village with their heads held high and positives taken from a valiant performance, particularly in the first half.
By Dan Fowler