Leigh Leopards and St Helens have served up a classic Challenge Cup semi-final at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium.
With 20 minutes on the clock, Saints trailed 10-6 and Sione Mata’utia looked to put the pressure on Ben Reynolds as he kicked the ball.
Mata’utia is a player who we sadly see yellow carded frequently such is the intensity he plays the game and the energy he brings but this time he got things wrong and hit Reynolds late.
The yellow card was shown and Reynolds dusted himself down and nailed the two points to make it 12-6 at a crucial point in the game.
Speaking on BBC Sport, Kevin Brown suggested that it could have been a red card for the backrower.
“It is definitely a card because he is late and he makes contact, I’m just not sure if it is a red or yellow,” he said.
“It looks like there is contact with the head there I think which is often a red card.”
However, the comments of Chris Kendall explain why it wasn’t a red and was indeed a yellow:
“You’re late and with a lot of force so it is going to be 10 minutes in the sin bin.”
The fact Kendall didn’t say there was contact with the head explains why it wasn’t a red card.
The Leopards trailed 6-0 at the break after a difficult first half but raised the tempo at the start of the second half with some great speed and winning two vital penalties.
On the back of the first penalty they made it 6-6 after Oliver Holmes hit a great line to carve through for the Leopards and cross.
Leigh would then punish a Jack Welsby mistake and score another try through Zak Hardaker. The former Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors star grounded the ball in the corner after a great chase from Tom Briscoe and Tee Ritson.
Reynolds missed the shot at goal that time but would get another chance after Mata’utia’s late hit on the halfback.
It was seen as being late and having a lot of force by the official.
It has been a basic contest but in the best possible way. The two teams are in a real battle royal as Saints pack dominate and roll the Leopards down field magnificently but Leigh hang in defensively exceptionally.
They did concede a relatively soft try to departing St Helens star Joey Lussick who burrowed over from close range for the opening try.
He has been excellent nailing a 40/20 from inside his own 20 metres and reaching the Leigh 10 metres with one of the best kicks you will see.
Leigh have produced some outstanding defensive efforts such as when Edwin Ipape intercepted an Agnatius Paasi offload and when Josh Charnley forced the ball out of Tommy Makinson’s arms as he dived in at the corner.
It is certainly a fascinating semi-final and one of the best in recent memory.