Leigh head coach Adrian Lam praised the performance of starting number nine Edwin Ipape following the side’s 38-30 defeat to Catalans in Perpignan.
The Super League Round 16 loss ended the Leopards’ winning streak of nine on Saturday evening, having most recently secured their place in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup following a 34-14 win over York.
The visitors were without Ava Seumanufagai, Zak Hardaker, Tom Nisbet and Kai O’Donnell due to respective suspensions, with a further five missing due to injury – although Lam refused to use that as an excuse for the defeat.
Leigh remain third on the Super League table with 20 points, while next best Salford host Wigan on Sunday at the AJ Bell Stadium.
It was a hard-fought victory for Steve McNamara’s Catalans, who moved two points clear at the top of the Super League table.
Temperatures in the south of France soared to over 35 degrees, with 1,000 travelling supporters for Leigh.
“I’ve got mixed emotions.”
“It’s frustrating really,” said Leigh boss Lam.
“We focused all week on getting our start right and we messed it up, but to give them a 20-point start and pin that back by half-time was incredible and we showed a lot of courage.
“I’ve got mixed emotions, frustration but pride at our courage and character.
“We hung in there to give ourselves a chance of winning it with just 12 minutes to go.
“If a couple of things went our way at the end we could have snuck the game.
“We’ve got four suspended and five injured so that’s nine in total out at the moment, but every club’s like that at this stage of the season.
“The players were given a role and stood up when it counted most. If Gaz O’Brien catches the ball we are three on one there but (Tom) Johnstone runs away and wins the game. That’s how close it was.”
Edwin Ipape praised by Leigh coach
Early Man of Steel favourite and Papua New Guinea international star Ipape was a try-scorer during the clash, while Ed Chamberlain scored twice with Josh Charnley and Tom Briscoe also crossing.
“Edwin Ipape has been brilliant for us all year,” Lam added.
“He played another 80 minutes for us tonight which is so important for us.
“He got hurt but it was important that we kept him on.
“We rallied really well and showed great resilience, so I’m really proud of them.”
Lam revealed no new injury issues from the clash apart from a potential shoulder problem for Umyla Hanley, who was named to start on the wing.