Agar drop delights Dewsbury

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The Independent Online

Dewsbury, beaten by a drop goal in last year's Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final, won by a drop-goal three minutes from time in an absorbing last act to the season here. Richard Agar's single point decided a breathless contest and Dewsbury now expect to play in Super League next season.

Dewsbury, beaten by a drop goal in last year's Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final, won by a drop-goal three minutes from time in an absorbing last act to the season here. Richard Agar's single point decided a breathless contest and Dewsbury now expect to play in Super League next season.

Their chairman, Bob McDermott, said: "The independent franchise panel will be recommending to the Rugby League Council on Wednesday that we should be admitted and we fully expect the council to endorse that recommendation."

McDermott said that the club has a signed contract to play home games at the Don Valley Stadium in Sheffield. Whether the game's administrators will regard that as an appropriate solution remains to be seen, but few could argue with the Dewsbury coach, Neil Kelly, when he said:"We have won every trophy we can in the NFP and it would be nice to give these players the opportunity to move up.

"I am elated, especially after last year. There was a tremendous amount of pride in that performance."

An early decision from the referee pushed Leigh in the direction of conceding the first try. They thought they had forced Adrian Flynn into touch; Robert Connolly ruled that he had been dragged out illegally.

Instead of being in a wonderful attacking position 10 yards from the Dewsbury line, Leigh were vulnerable to the counter attack and, still inside the first two minutes, Daniel Frame ducked under the tackle as his fellow Australian, Adam Bristow, to make the break that set up Barry Eaton. The scrum-half touched down to complete his record of scoring in every match this season and also added the goal.

There was more shape and method about Dewsbury, with Leigh often finding themselves pressured into mistakes. The most damaging of those came when Alan Cross knocked on from Agar's long kick. Leigh were always in trouble from the scrum and, with his first touch, the Dewsbury substitute Matthew Long barged over.

Leigh badly needed a break and they got one just before the half-hour when Bristow put in a little grubber kick but Frame could not collect. Tim Street retrieved the ball and the excitingly pacy young hooker Mick Higham raced in for the try, converted by Liam Brotherton, that opened the game up.

Leigh showed signs of seizing control before half time, especially with a marvellous attack on the last tackle, starting with Dave Whittle and Street and going through virtually every other pair of hands before Dewsbury snuffed out the danger. It was the sort of rugby that 40 coach-loads of neutrals from the other NFP clubs had come to see.

It was Leigh's turn to sweat after the break when Cross again lost an Agar kick, but neither side could score until the 62nd minute when Tim Street gifted Eaton two points by stealing the ball from Shayne Williams.

Whittle and Williams went to the sin-bin for fighting as a game played of high emotions boiled over for a moment. In such a tense affair, a mistake was always likely to be crucial and when Richard Baker dropped the ball bringing it away from his line, Leigh saw their chance, Higham darting over from dummy-half for his second, and Bretherton's kick levelling the scores.

Leigh had a chance when Simon Baldwin broke free but put his kick straight into Nathan Graham's arms. At the other end, Eaton had a drop-goal attempt blocked but Dewsbury kept possession from a Leigh knock-on and, from the scrum, Agar manoeuvred the position for the winning point.

Leigh's last chance disappeared when James Arkwright was bundled into touch on their final set of six.

Dewsbury: Graham; Baker, O'Meara, Popper, Flynn; Agar, Eaton; Williams, Mycoe, Haigh, Richardson, Frame, Ball. Substitutes used: Wood, Delaney, McDonald, Long.

Leigh: Donlan; Cross, Anderson, Fairclough, Ingram; Bretherton, Purtill; Street, Higham, Leathem, Baldwin, Cruckshank, Bristow, Substitutes used: Arkwright, Norman, Bowker, Whittle.

Referee: R Connolly (Wigan).

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