Two crucial plays by Liam Sutcliffe helped secure a tight 14-17 victory for Leeds Rhinos tonight against Leigh Centurions at Leigh Sports Village.
He kicked a field -goal right on half-time and then added a 40-20 just before the end of the game to clinch victory.
Mitch Garbutt pulled out of the Leeds side before kick-off with an illness and was replaced by Josh Walters, who went onto the bench.
Leigh coach Neil Jukes made five changes from the team that faced Castleford a week earlier, but captain Micky Higham was still out with injury.
Leigh opened the scoring in the fifth minute, when Matty Dawson touched down in the corner and Ben Reynolds’ conversion attempt hit the post.
They scored again three minutes later through fullback Mitch Brown, but Reynolds missed the inversion again.
The Rhinos replied with a try from Adam Cuthbertson with a charge from close to the line after Antoni Maria had lost possession for Leigh. Liam Sutcliffe kicked the goal to make the score 8-6, and the Rhinos took the lead when Matt Parcell made a break that was finished off by Ryan Hall for an unconverted try.
Jimmy Keinhorst extended the Rhinos’ lead on 32 minutes, with video referee Ben Thaler reversing referee Jack Smith’s ‘no-try’ decision but Sutcliffe couldn’t convert, although he added field-goal on the hooter to make the score 8-15 at the interval.
Sutcliffe kicked a penalty on 60 minutes, before Ben Crooks shocked the Rhinos with a superbly taken try on 68 minutes and Reynolds converted to take the score to 14-17.
With 90 seconds remaining Sutcliffe kicked a 40-20 and the game was effectively over, with the Rhinos holding on for a three-point victory.
Leigh: Brown, Higson, Crooks, Tonga, Dawson, Reynolds, Drinkwater, Hock, Pelissier, Maria, Paterson, Vea, Hansen (C); Subs: Hampshire, Hopkins, Acton, Tickle
Leeds: Golding, Briscoe, Watkins, Keinhorst, Hall, Sutcliffe, Burrow, Mullally, Parcell, Singleton, Ward, Ablett, Jones-Buchanan; Subs: Cuthbertson, Walters, Ormondroyd, McGuire (C)
A full report and photos from the game will feature in Monday’s League Express.