Hull KR battle to close win as poor discipline almost gifts Leigh first victory
Ryan Hall’s 13th Betfred Super League try of the season was unlucky for Leigh but capped a dramatic 34-28 roller-coaster win for Tony Smith’s play-off contenders.
Rovers played for nearly 20 minutes of the second half with only 12 men and were briefly down to 11 after yellow cards for forwards Albert Vete and George Lawler.
Trailing 24-10 after 45 minutes Leigh, now winless in 15 games, staged a thrilling comeback to lead 28-24.
But Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s second try of an exciting spectacle and Hall’s latest touchdown to extend his lead as the competition’s top try-scorer ensured Rovers went above rivals Hull FC to fifth in the table on win percentage.
Even then Leigh skipper Liam Hood then had a potentially equalising try disallowed for offside.
Kurt Haggerty’s home side surely cannot come any closer to breaking their duck than this. They scored the first and last tries of the opening period but four in reply gave Rovers an 18-10 interval lead.
The advantage could have been greater but ex-Centurion Ben Crooks missed three conversions.
Leigh shrugged off the loss in the warm-up of injured forward Nathan Mason to make a turbo-charged start.
Former Salford favourite Junior Sa’u finished a flowing move after just 58 seconds and Joe Mellor briefly hoped he had doubled Leigh’s advantage eight minutes later.
Referee Chris Kendall signalled an on-field try as Mellor raced onto debutant Jack Logan’s hack on of his teammate’s initial kick.
Video referee Liam Moore, however, ruled the ex-Widnes playmaker failed to ground the ball.
But Leigh could not sustain their momentum, reverting to type this season by becoming too easy to score against.
And it was young half-backs Rowan Milnes and Mikey Lewis at the heart of a Rovers revival that brought 14 points in seven minutes.
Kane Linnett and Greg Minikin profited from intervention by Milnes, the youngster’s second angled kick plucked out of the air by Brad Takairangi for his winger to run round the short side and touch down.
Then it was Lewis’ turn, providing the pass assist for Kenny-Dowall’s 23rd minute try before showing and going himself for a 34th minute try to make it 18-4.
A try by Craig Mullen which he also converted dragged Leigh back into contention before the interval.
But Vete’s beefy barge over, goaled by Crooks, restored Rovers’ 14 point cushion.
That lead though quickly evaporated as Tongan giant Vete was sin-binned for a shoulder charge on Matty Gee.
Korbin Sims’ high lunge on Mellor was fortunate not to receive the same punishment but there was no reprieve for Lawler when he went high on loanee Josh Eaves.
Leigh made the two-man advantage tell when Sa’u dashed in for a second try. And though Vete returned, Lewis was forced off with a head injury.
With Rovers still down to 12, Sidlow’s second try put Leigh back in front at 28-24.
Kiwi ace Kenny-Dowall tied the scores with his own second try after 67 minutes before Hall went over late on to seal a stunning win.