Ruthless Rhinos crush Leigh's dream of cup repeat
Leigh 12 Leeds 60
Dave Hadfield was a schoolboy convert to rugby league, the game which, one way or another, has dominated his life ever since. After working for newspapers in Shropshire and Blackpool (where he covered the fortunes of Blackpool Borough) he travelled the world, working mainly in Hong Kong and Sydney. He became The Independent's rugby league man in 1990 and has written five books on the game and broadcast extensively for Sky and the BBC. Dave played his last game at the age of 53 and would have set up a try if anyone could have been bothered supporting his break. When not writing about the sport, he now limits himself to a bit of tick and pass with his local club, the Bolton Mets. Family includes supporters - of varying degrees of dedication - of Salford, Wigan, Sheffield Eagles and St George Illawarra.
eigh Sports Village
Saturday 12 May 2012
Leeds ensured that there would be no re-run of the great Challenge Cup upset of 41 years ago, with a composed performance to take them into this season's semi-finals.
There was plenty of the spirit of 1971 about Leigh's display, but that was never enough to counter the class of last year's runners-up, for whom Kevin Sinfield finished with 28 points. Leigh, now of the part-time Championship, never stopped trying and could have kept it closer with a better kicking game and a couple of different refereeing decisions.
There was no hint of dwelling on past from the home side. Leigh were the first side to build any pressure, with Steve Nash getting over the line, though he was denied by a forward pass. Then Leeds took the lead with a well-crafted try, Kevin Sinfield kicking down the right wing, Lee Smith gathering the ball and Danny McGuire supporting.
Leigh had their moment of hope when they equalised soon after, Bob Beswick's long pass stretching the Rhinos' defence and any number of hands keeping the ball alive before Tommy Goulden ploughed over the line.
Unfortunately for Leigh, that was where the romance died. A cruelly bouncing Sinfield kick saw Brent Webb put Leeds back in front, followed by a rapier thrust down the right touchline by Ben Jones-Bishop. There was no arguing with Leeds' fourth, however, a fast, flat pass from McGuire leaving the wide defence flat-footed for Ryan Hall to finish.
The third quarter was largely one-way traffic, with Rob Burrow scurrying through for one try and then linking with McGuire to set up Shaun Lunt, before Sinfield claimed the first of his two tries to go with his 10 goals from ten attempts.
Leigh did well to stage a minor revival, McNally scoring from his own kick and their captain, Rob Parker, having one disallowed, but it all finished with Leeds well on top through Sinfield's second and a length of the field dash by Hall.
Leigh McNally; Maden, Littler, Gardner, Pownall; Ridyard, Beswick, Parker, Nicholson, Ostick, Laithwaite, Goulden, Nash. Replacements used Hopkins, Gallagher, Brierley, Briscoe.
Leeds Webb, Jones-Bishop, Smith, Hardaker, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire, Leuluai, Burrow, Kirke, Jones-Buchanan, Hauraki, Clarkson. Replacements used McShane, Bailey, Moore, Lunt.
Referee B Thaler (Wakefield).
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