5 standout players as Hull KR beat Leigh Leopards to seal Challenge Cup semi-final spot

Ben Olawumi
Joe Burgess, Mikey Lewis, Tom Amone

Hull KR duo Joe Burgess (left) & Mikey Lewis (middle) and Leigh Leopards ace Tom Amone (right)

Hull KR came out on top in a ding-dong Challenge Cup battle with Leigh Leopards at Craven Park to book their spot in the semi-finals of the competition for the third year on the bounce.

Leigh – who beat KR under the Wembley arch to lift the Challenge Cup last August – enjoyed a positive first half, heading back into the sheds 8-4 to the good at the break.

But Willie Peters’ Robins got the job done on home soil with a second half comeback, scoring four tries with the visitors’ only response coming through Umyla Hanley.

26-14 was the final score at Craven Park, and we’ve picked out five standout players from tonight’s quarter-final clash, looked at below in alphabetical order by surname…

Tom Amone

Tom Amone Leigh Leopards Alamy
Leigh Leopards’ Tom Amone

Having missed the last four through injury, the Leopards welcomed Amone back to the fold. Despite the scoreline, he was one of the standouts from an absolute classic cup tie for us, it’s clear to see how much Leigh have missed him in these last few weeks.

Without Amone, Leigh’s middles – on paper – looked bleak today, but his presence is huge. Once some of their other big-hitters are back, like captain John Asiata, we think we’ll see vast improvement from Adrian Lam’s men. Their defence just isn’t good enough at the minute, but it’s hard to be overly critical with the absentee list.

Joe Burgess

KR winger Burgess was named man of the match by broadcasters BBC, and while we’re not entirely sure about that – as we’ll detail shortly – we’re definitely not arguing against him having put in a stellar showing.

He’s enjoying his rugby again following his move from Salford Red Devils, and Burgess grabbed another two tries tonight to take his tally for the year up to six in five appearances. The 29-year-old was good out of yardage, and constantly got the Robins on the front foot.

Mikey Lewis

Mikey Lewis Hull KR Alamy
Hull KR’s Mikey Lewis

This man, as he so often is, would have been our pick for man of the match. Last year’s final defeat under the Wembley arch wouldn’t have hurt many more than KR’s #7, and he showed that tonight.

Lewis is just at the heart of every good thing the Robins do on a weekly basis, and tonight we particularly enjoyed his two ‘tap and go’s’ from penalties. We hope he never loses that off-the-cuff ability, because it’s a joy to watch at times. His rise continues.

Kai O’Donnell

While some of Leigh’s senior stars have been out, second-rower O’Donnell has really stepped up and often been one of the leading voices on the pitch for Lam’s side.

That was no different at Craven Park, where the try he got to level things up in the first half was just the moment of glory his performance throughout the 80 minutes deserved. It’s very rare O’Donnell doesn’t impress, even when Leigh end up on the losing side of a game.

Jai Whitbread

Jai Whitbread
Hull KR’s Jai Whitbread

There’s a reason that KR put their hand in their pocket to pick up Whitbread following Wakefield Trinity’s relegation, and tonight exemplified exactly why that was.

The prop’s work ethic and desire to help his team-mates out in any way possible often goes under the radar, but he’s always a big part in the Robins getting over the line in games. An absolute battering ram going forward, and someone who will always put his body on the line when required. A trademark gutsy showing.