Hull Kingston Rovers shocked their hosts Leigh Centurions when they came out for the second half trailing 24-6, but transformed that scoreline into a 26-36 victory in the opening game of the Super 8s Qualifiers this afternoon at Leigh Sports Village.
In a game played throughout in warm sunshine, the Robins, without the injured Albert Kelly, took an early lead when Dane Chisholm picked up a loose ball near his own line and sprinted 100 metres to touch down, with Josh Mantellato adding the goal.
Leigh came roaring back, however, and scored four tries to give them what many thought was an unassailable lead at half-time.
In the 19th minute Ryan Brierley took a great offload from Gareth Hock on the Hull KR line to touch down and Martyn Ridyard’s goal levelled the scores.
Gregg McNally then touched down after beautifully collecting a Brierley kick in the air towards the Hull KR line following a fine offload by Sam Barlow.
Andrew Dixon then spotted a gap in the Rovers’ defence to score Leigh’s third, and Tom Armstrong touched down in the final minute of the half, with the video referee reversing referee Ben Thaler’s decision not to award the try. Ridyard converted each of the tries.
In the second half the Robins needed to score first to regain some confidence, and Kieran Dixon obliged when he dashed down the wing to touch down from a Graeme Horne pass, with Mantellato again goaling.
Ridyard added a penalty for Leigh in the 53rd minute when Kris Welham infringed in a tackle on McNally to make the score 26-12 at that point.
Maurice Blair then cut through the Leigh defence cleverly after 60 minutes, and Mantellato’s goal reduced the deficit to eight points.
But the crucial score came six minutes later, when Tony Puletua touched down from close in shortly after Hock had conceded a penalty near his own line, with Mantellato’s goal making it 26-24 and the Robins realising they could win the game.
They took the lead on 72 minutes when hooker Shaun Lunt touched down from a Tyrone McCarthy offload near the Leigh line, and they confirmed victory with three minutes remaining when Ben Cockayne scored the final try after the ball had come loose when Jake Emmitt had stripped the ball from McCarthy, with the video referee confirming Thaler’s decision to award a try.
A full report, photos and analysis from today’s game will feature in Monday’s edition of League Express.