Leigh defeated Sheffield thanks to a strong second half display but it wasn’t enough for them to make the Qualifiers.
Prior to Round 23 of the Championship taking place, the Centurions needed one of London Broncos, Toulouse Olympique and Halifax to lose to be in with a chance of making the Qualifiers, but it wasn’t to be.
London thrashed Barrow Raiders 72-6, Toulouse eased past Dewsbury Rams 44-18 and Halifax comfortably beat Rochdale Hornets 38-6. Fifth-placed Featherstone Rovers became the first team to beat Toronto Wolfpack in Canada on Saturday with a 30-12 scoreline.
Kieron Purtill made seven changes to his Leigh Centurions side that beat Swinton Lions last week. Will Dagger, Ricky Bailey, Ilias Bergal, Micky Higham, Ryan Bailey, Nick Gregson and Jordan Walne came in for Peter Mata’utia, Ben Crooks, Craig Hall, Liam Hood, Harrison Hansen, Bodene Thompson and Jordan Thompson.
Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston made two changes to his side that beat Barrow Raiders last time out. Oliver Davies and Oscar Thomas replaced Matty Costello and Paddy Burns.
Sheffield opened the scoring at the Leigh Sports Village. James Bentley crashed over the line from close range. Oscar Thomas failed to convert.
The Eagles extended their lead on the half hour mark. Cory Aston, who is on loan from Castleford Tigers, scored from a brilliant run-around with Ilies Macani. Scotland international Thomas converted to put his side in a 10-0 lead.
Leigh pulled one back just before half-time. The ball went through quick hands to Ricky Bailey who dived over in the corner. Ben Reynolds couldn’t convert and Leigh were 10-4 behind at the break.
The hosts looked sharp in the second half. A quick passing move resulted in Bergal crossing the whitewash shortly after the restart.
Leigh took the lead for the first time in the game in the 52ndminute. Matty Dawson-Jones got on the end of a Reynolds bomb to touch down. Jack Owens added the extras to put Leigh 14-10 in front.
The hosts scored from another quick passing move when France international Bergal went over out wide.
Bergal completed a 17-minute hat-trick with an excellent finish in the corner, despite the best efforts of Ben Blackmore to force him into touch. Owens’ boot took the score to 24-10.
The Centurions have had a turbulent week to say the least, but the players were doing the club proud in the second half. Dagger caught the Sheffield defence napping to score on his debut. Owens again added the conversion.
Dawson-Jones capped a fine display from himself in the 75thminute when he got the better of USA star Corey Makelim to go over for his second try of the afternoon. Owens failed to convert, but Leigh finished the regular Championship season in sixth with a 34-10 victory over Sheffield Eagles.
The Centurions have a week off next week, but will start their Championship Shield campaign in a fortnight.
Leigh: Dagger; Ricky Bailey, Owens, Dawson-Jones, Bergal; Reynolds, Hutchison; A Walne, Higham, Ryan Bailey, Larroyer, Gregson, J Walne. Subs: Mortimer, Mason, Richards, Blagbrough.
Sheffield: Thomas; Macani, Yere, Toole, Blackmore; Aston, Makelim; Offerdahl, Fozard, Pick, Bentley, Weldon, James. Subs: Burns, Garcia, Davies, Magrin.
Starman: Matty Dawson-Jones was outstanding for Leigh. He no doubt attracted interest through the week but he has stuck with the club and performed very well.