EAST LEEDS 18 LEIGH EAST 14
By Dave Parkinson.
Leigh East had their National Conference League Challenge Trophy hopes ended for another season at East Leeds. Overall the hosts were just that bit smarter and held a late fightback at bay.
A low scoring first half started with the hosts scoring after just five minutes. Fullback James Parkinson had been a hero for East, tracking down and tackling Jacob Walton but on the next play Tom Sheldrake spread the ball right and Tim Norfolk stepped in to a scoring line. Sheldrake converted and East Leeds led 6-0.
Leigh East went close five minutes later when debutant Brad Cave darted for the line only to be stopped short.
There was little to choose between the teams and the tight nature of the half continued with Pat Rainford also being halted on the line.
East Leeds pushed to good territory before Adam Holland kicked long from a scrum. The hosts retrieved possession before handing the ball back to Leigh East two tackles later.
Leigh East lost here 36-6 at the start of the season but were giving it everything with Jake Beaumont seeing a try chalked off.
At the other end Ben Walkin was proving difficult to hold with his offload game causing headaches for the visitors defence.
Eight minutes from the break Leigh East got their reward. Adam Wilkes and Jamie Waters pushed forward before substitute Martin Roden dived over from dummy half. Adam Holland goaled and it was 6-all, a score that carried to the break.
Leigh East made a positive start to the new half and spurned chance of a penalty goal before losing the ball.
East Leeds then dominated possession, winning field position and this was rewarded when Luke Tomlinson ran from the base of a scrum. Despite the best attention of Wilkes, he was somehow able to touch down. Sheldrake added his second goal.
The fine start to the second half continued for the hosts with Walkin again stopped close to the line. More strong running from Norfolk set position and on the last tackle Tomlinson's low kick took a deflection with Jacob Thompson picking up the try. the boot of Sheldrake made it 18-6.
Back came Leigh East when Tai Tupou had the ball on the last tackle and somehow squeezed it out for Alex Holcroft to score. There was no goal but it was 18-10.
Then with ten minutes remaining Leigh East came up with a great try. A shallow chip by Adam Holland was caught by Holcroft. He in turn released Chris Dootson and just as tacklers converged he threw inside for Tupou to cross. Again it was too wide for Holland but East Leeds were rocking.
During the closing stages East Leeds regained their composure and their last five minutes saw them move into the next round of the cup competition.
East Leeds: Jacob Walton, Shane Plunkett, Tim Norfolk, Jordan Normington, Kai Simpson; Tom Sheldrake, Jacob Thompson; Lee Priestley, Jack Carroll, Lee Fisher, Ben Walkin, Ryan Holmes, Reggie Brown. Luke Tomlinson, Tom Holmes, Josh Longbottom, Ralph Steel.
Tries: Norfolk (5), Tomlinson (46), Thompson (52).
Goals: Sheldrake 3/3.
Leigh East: James Parkinson, Josh Adudwumaa, Tai Tupou, Connor Johnson, Chris Dootson; Adam Holland, Brad Cave; Adam Wilkes, Pat Rainford, Jamie Waters, Josh Swift, Jake Beaumont, Jay Yarwood. Subs: Martin Roden, Louis Else, Ryan Hughes, Alex Holcroft.
Tries: Roden (32), Holcroft (63), Tupou (70).
Goals: Holland 1/3.