Challenge Cup: York 14-34 Leigh – Leopards rally after red card to reach semi-final
Betfred Challenge Cup
York (14) 14
Tries: Brown, Harrison
Goals: Harrison 3
Leigh (8) 34
Tries: Mellor, Amone, Charnley 2, Briscoe 2
Goals: O’Brien 2, Hardaker 3
Twelve-man Leigh survived a scare from Championship side York thanks to a second-half rally which secured a Challenge Cup semi-final place.
Leopards’ forward Kai O’Donnell was dismissed for a dangerous tackle before Myles Harrison and Joe Brown tries gave York a lead, with Joe Mellor replying.
Tom Amone scored to give Leigh belief, and they took the lead for the first time when Josh Charnley scored.
Charnley’s second and Tom Briscoe’s double blew out the score late on.
The semis will take place over the weekend of 22-23 July, with Leigh taking on St Helens and Hull KR playing holders Wigan in the last four.
Leigh have been one of the stand-out teams in Super League with their slick football and impressive defence, but they were rattled for 50 minutes by a York side who were given little chance by the pre-match pundits.
Yet, Adrian Lam’s side still had the gumption and quality to come up with the goods even on an off day, a sign that they can be considered a threat on all fronts this season.
Hopes of making the semis and reaching a first final since 1971 took a dent when Australian back-rower O’Donnell was sent off after just six minutes for an ugly tackle on Josh Daley, and Harrison took the chance to boot a goal for the lead.
Brown then touched down a Ata Hingano kick after Zak Hardaker’s sin-binning put the visitors down to 11, and Leigh were truly wobbling.
Lachlan Lam’s grubber was finished by Mellor to put Leigh on the board but that was as good as it got in the first half as Harrison added a second try before the break.
It took until almost an hour for the Leopards to wrest control, with prop Amone stomping over, and slick play teed up Charnley’s two tries.
York, a part-time club, faded late on as the Super League side finally discovered their rhythm, and Briscoe’s double gave the score an unflattering look for a Knights side who were extremely game throughout.
York coach Andrew Henderson told BBC Radio York:
“I’m a very proud man. It was a wonderful effort from one to 17.
“Once again it was a patched-up team, a number of players playing out of position and a lot of youth out there.
“It’s a real credit to that young side to battle the way they did and give Leigh a fright.”
Leigh coach Adrian Lam told BBC Radio Manchester:
“That’s why rugby league is the greatest of all. In the Challenge Cup you have upsets and that was the fear coming here as red hot favourites.
“After 40 minutes of uncharacteristic rugby league in that first half, we couldn’t wait to get into half-time to have my words with them.
“Luckily we got there with the scoreboard as it was and not worse, then we sorted ourselves out.”
Referee: Jack Smith