Those who hoped Leeds would make Wigan fight all the way for the Centenary Championship were left disappointed yesterday as Sheffield Eagles stunned Headingley with a deserved 27-22 success. Leeds are now faced with a seemingly impossible task in hauling back Wigan, who have gone four points clear.
Leeds only have themselves to blame as they failed to make the most of numerous chances to let the Eagles come back from an early 10-point deficit .
A shock defeat looked to have been avoided when Leeds' young winger, Paul Cook, scored in the corner nine minutes from time to give them a 22-19 advantage.
But Sheffield refused to accept defeat and their superior teamwork enabled the forward, Andy Hay, to crash over the home line for his second try after 74 minutes to give the visitors the edge. Any chance Leeds had of saving the game in the dying minutes were shattered when the big forward, Anthony Farrell, stormed 70 yards in a fine solo run to settle the issue with a spectacular touchdown.
At The Stoop, Iestyn Harris enhanced the belief that he can fill the hole left by the departure of Jonathan Davies when a moment of magic from the Welsh stand-off turned the game in Warrington's favour to defeat London Broncos 18-10. Harris ripped through the heart of Broncos' defence in the 62nd minute to put in the full-back, Lee Penney, for a vital try, and then added the two points.
Castleford slipped to their fourth consecutive defeat at Oldham. In a thrilling match Oldham, themselves struggling at the wrong end of the Championship, fully deserved their third victory of the season, with the 19-year-old substitute, Chris McKinney, grabbing the crucial try to win 25-20.
A drop-goal by Steve Gartland 10 minutes from time made sure of the points for the home team.