Leigh Centurions coach Kieron Purtill insists Peter Mata’utia’s red card had a massive bearing on their chances of reaching the Challenge Cup semi-finals – but admits it was the right decision.
The fullback was sent off just eight minutes into Leigh’s eventual 52-22 loss to Leeds on Friday; at that stage, the Centurions were winning 6-0 and playing the better rugby.
But after Mata’utia was sent off by Chris Kendall for a dangerous tackle on Matt Parcell, Purtill admitted the incident didn’t look great.
He said: “We saw it the same as you live – and it didn’t look great. I’ve no complaints until I watch it back – but we have to be better than that as a group to handle it.
“The sending-off had a big effect on the game and it stunned us. We started well, we looked threatening and defensively we were okay – but we didn’t handle that first half well after the reed. Leeds are a fantastic team, they play quick and we just couldn’t stop them.”
Purtill was quick to defend the fullback though – who has been a revelation for Leigh since joining from the NRL at the start of this season.
“Peter has been fantastic for us all season,” he said. “He’s a great bloke and he hasn’t got a nasty bone in his body and he’s been one of our real leaders.”