Hull Kingston Rovers produced a magnificent display to dump Leigh Centurions out of the Challenge Cup and lay down a marker for what is to come later in the season.
On loan Hull FC star Jordan Abdull was an inspirational figure as the Robins beat their Super League replacements 10-23 to progress into the 6th round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup and a possible tie with the black and whites.
Ryan Shaw got the visitors off to the perfect start when a latched onto a Leigh error after a thundering hit by ex Penrith youngster Andrew Heffernan to score after just 3 minutes, Jamie Ellis was successful with the extras. It was to get even better for the Robins just 6 minutes later when a Jamie Ellis grubber kick hit a Leigh defender in his own in goal area and the ever alert George Lawler (pictured) scooped up the loose ball to increase the lead to 10, Ellis couldn’t convert.
The travelling red and whites fans were already beginning to sense an upset. Jordan Abdull launched a huge kick from just outside his own 40 metre line which Ben Reynolds was unable to deal with and knocked on giving the Robins a scrum feed just 10 metres from the Leigh line, but the Robins couldn’t capitalise and Leigh saw off the danger.
After the frenetic start the game settled into tit for tat sets until the 20th minute when Leigh’s Lachlan Burr spotted a gap in the Robins defence and scooted over to the left of the sticks, Reynolds added the extras, and within a space of two minutes the Centurions were level. Rovers right edge was exposed and on loan Hull FC back Curtis Naughton took advantage of some sloppy defence to go in at the corner. Reynolds failed with the conversion so it was all square at 10 apiece.
Careless play from both sides and James Child finding his whistle saw the first half petering out until on the 38th minute, Abdull produced a gem of a pass to James Greenwood who’s angled run was timed to perfection and he crashed over. Ellis nailed the 2 and the Robins led their Super League opponents at the break 10-16.
The Centurions created the first action of note in the 2nd period when then produced a 40/20 on 49 minutes when Ryan Shaw saw a wicked bounce beat him to the ball, but in the ensuing set Ben Reynolds was penalised for an incorrect play the ball, handing possession to the Robins. Abdull’s probing kicks was turning the Centurions around time and again but indiscipline was letting Rovers down and only tremendous defence of four sets of 6 on their own line was keeping the scoreline in tact.
With 15 minutes to go, that man Abdull came up with the game changing play when the Centurions looked certain scorers only for Abdull to intercept the ball and produce a lung busting burst 60 metres up field to release the unrelenting pressure. On 68 minutes Leigh thought they were back in the game as they crossed the line only for James Child to rule a forward pass.
Moments later the Robins were awarded a penalty 40 metres away from the Leigh line and whilst the bench were screaming to take the two the ball was kicked into touch for a tap restart, this decision thankfully didn’t come back to haunt them as Jamie Ellis popped over a drop goal to take the Robins two scores clear with 9 minutes to play. Abdull’s game management came to the fore in the Robins next two sets as his astute kicking pegged the Centurions back in their own 20 metre zone. As Leigh pushed for field position, errors and wayward passes were helping the Robins cause and with two minutes remaining Ryan Shaw grabbed his second of the day as he eyed a gap in the Leigh defence after Dayne Weston was pulled for offside and with sheer pace he was over by the right of the posts leaving Jamie Ellis with a comfortable conversion. The Robins held the Centurions scoreless in the second period and came away with a 10-23 victory to march into Tuesday’s sixth round draw.
Anyone fancy a Cup Derby?