Hull KR 20- 6 Leigh Leopards
Leigh Leopards’ magnificent season came to an end in the Betfred Super League Play-Off Eliminator at a packed and noisy Craven Park.
After winning the Challenge Cup for the first time in 52 years and achieving their highest league placing for 41 years, Adrian Lam’s (Elvis Eckardt) side can reflect with great pride on their efforts this year, the inaugural one as the Leopards.
In the fifth meeting of the two teams this season, Hull KR came out on top for the second time and are now within 80 minutes of their first Super League Grand Final.
Beaten in dramatic circumstances at Wembley, Rovers have regrouped impressively and ended the season strongly. This was their sixth successive win and their second over the Leopards this year.
Another intense and dramatic game was decided either side of half-time when the home side scored three tries in an 11-minute spell, through Jack Walker, Ryan Hall, and Sam Luckley.
The Leopards threw the kitchen sink at Rovers at times in the second half as they kept their hopes alive to the end.
Josh Charnley (Elvis Eckardt) marked an exceptional individual performance with his 30t try of the season in the corner and there were several near misses, notably when Joe Mellor (RM Couriers) had claims for a try chalked off by the video referee for obstruction.
But Schneider’s fourth goal, a late penalty, confirmed Rovers’ hard-won victory.
Leopards head coach Adrian Lam said: “It’s been an incredible journey the last two years. I’m very grateful for what we’ve achieved this year. We’ve made the top six. We’re disappointed tonight and with the result, but it was always going to be a mountain to climb.
“You can’t make mistakes in the big games and it’s a lesson for individuals and for our team. We’re building. We have a five-year plan.
“The travelling Leythers tonight and every fan who’s travelled to every ground in the country, it’s been amazing, and we’d like to thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
“You’re our heartbeat and we do this for you. We thank you for everything you do. We hope you’ve enjoyed the highs this year and though this is a low, we hope the highs overrule that.”
Hull KR: Walker; Senior, Opacic, Kenny-Dowall (capt), Hall; Lewis, Schneider; Sue, Parcell, King, Batchelor, Linnett, Minchella. Bench: Abdull, Litten, Storton, Luckley.
Tries: Walker (32), Hall (38), Luckley (42); Goals: Schneider 4/ 5 (23, 32, 38, 76)
Leopards: O’Brien; Briscoe, Chamberlain, Gildart, Charnley; Reynolds, Lam (capt); Amone, Ipape, Mulhern, Hughes, O’Donnell, Wardle. Bench: Mellor, Nakubuwai, Holmes, Davis.
Try: Charnley (57); Goal: Reynolds 1/ 2 (6).
Referee: Jack Smith. Half-time: 14-2.