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Leigh Leopards 34-4 Hull KR: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

Hull Kingston Rovers travelled to the Leigh Sports Village tonight looking to avenge their week three last minute loss to the Leopards, with the opportunity to leapfrog Leigh also on the cards.

Leigh’s winning run ended last week in France against Catalans but it was still an impressive performance, one that was only truly decided by Tom Johnstone’s late intercept try.

As for Rovers they impressed during the first half against Wakefield Trinity but were inconsistent in the second-half, eventually winning out 28-12.

A win by an 11 point margin will see Rovers leapfrog Leigh, with results elsewhere dictating how high they can go, with third place even on the cards potentially.

As for the Leopards they were keen to get back in the winning column and could rise as high as second with victory, highlighting the huge importance of the match.

Hull KR once again utilised their Catalans loanees to create a strong back line of Tanguy Zenon, Fouad Yaha, Tom Opacic, Shaun Kenny-Dowall and the returning Ryan Hall.

Halves Mikey Lewis and Rowan Milnes paired together again with Jordan Abdull still absent whilst Jez Litten assumed the starting hooker role, with the experienced Matt Parcell primed to come off the bench.

Leigh were still missing the suspending Kai O’Donnell and Tom Nisbet but get Zak Hardaker back for this one whilst natural centre Ed Chamberlain slots into the second-row.

Highlights

Hectic Start
Mikey Lewis got the game underway with the kick-off, one that Josh Charnley smartly caught whilst he had his foot in touch thus forcing the kick to be classed as out on the full. From Ben Reynolds kick to touch to restart play he failed to find touch with Ryan Hall’s athletic attempt keeping the ball in. A clumsy start for both kickers.

Lewis goes for ten
When Hull KR finished their first complete set it was a smart kick from Jez Litten that unfortunately rolled too far in behind. When collecting the ball the chasing Mikey Lewis couldn’t stop himself in the rainy conditions and ended up slide tackling Gareth O’Brien which resulted in him seeing yellow, summing up a frantic start.

Briscoe bursts over
Tom Briscoe famously scored five tries in the Challenge Cup Final against Hull KR and he was back to haunt them tonight scoring in the corner after just nine minutes, making it his seventh try in six games.

Ipape and Lam link up
Jon Wilkin had previewed the necessity for ruck speed in a game in such wet weather conditions and Edwin Ipape had clearly listened. The hooker from PNG darted from dummy-half inside his own half piercing the Rovers line with a pass to Lachlan Lam who then played the hooker in with even Ryan Hall’s tackle unable to stop the sliding Ipape from grounding the ball to make it 10-0 inside 12 minutes.

Leopards tear Rovers apart
Just five minutes after Ipape’s score it was the turn of Ed Chamberlain who ran an elite line that Lachlan Lam found allowing him to run through from ten yards out. Slick play from Leigh but all too soft defensively from the Robins.

Rovers get lucky?
After a spell of Rover’s possession Leigh bounced back and completed a set with a smart kick to Fouad Yaha who claimed well. Even better though was the tackle from Ricky Leutele who nailed the Frenchman and forced the ball out as well, which was picked up and grounded by a Leigh man, but referee Marcus Griffiths ruled it as a second movement in the tackle in a stroke of luck for Hull KR.

Charnley scores a walk-in
Who else but Josh Charnley? The winger scored his 20th of the Super League season but it all came from a huge error by Rovers full-back Tanguy Zenon. He allowed Ben Reynolds kick to go out of play, seemingly unaware that it was a 40/20, which granted Leigh brilliant territory and the classic right to left shift then played in the veteran winger who scored untouched to take Leigh into the half 22-0 up.

“Hull KR in a nutshell”
Rovers started the second-half with plenty of intent and forced multiple repeat sets in Leigh’s own 20. They scuppered those chances though and allowed Leigh into it when Tanguy Zenon spilled a kick on his own line, to which pundit Jon Wilkin stated summed up “Hull KR in a nutshell”. Even worse was that from the resulting drop-out Leigh then scored a penalty try with Matt Parcell tackling Ricky Leutele off the ball. That left the score at 28-0 on 50 minutes with Rovers already looking ahead to the derby next week.

Mulhern punishes former club
It was a tough second-half with the result having being sealed with over half an hour to go but it was still Leigh who continued to add the points and this time it came through former Robin, Robbie Mulhern who received a smart no-look pass from Ben Reynolds to crash over with 15 minutes to go.

Consolation for Rovers
The man who started the match with a sin bin ensured that Hull KR weren’t nilled when he forced his way through on an arcing run down the left flank to cross over. It summed KR’s night up that the usually reliable Rowan Milnes dragged the kick horribly wide to finish the match 34-4.

Talking Points

Weather
It was a game played in torrential rain and it was evident that playing the conditions would be paramount. How would Leigh’s expansive style of play suit that weather? The answer was that managed just fine, in fact they played Hull KR off the park.

Lam the creator
Lachlan Lam is having a brilliant season and tonight was no different with the PNG playmaker pulling strings all night long. His two assists in the first-half took him outright top on the try assists chart with 19, two clear of Jack Welsby’s 17.

Rovers need to reset
Hull KR were completely below par tonight and they’re heading into a spell of three huge games starting with the derby next week at Craven Park. Facing in-form Hull FC will be a huge challenge, and is a must-win game simply for bragging rights, before they face Leeds at Headingley who are just two points behind them now. If they lose both of those games they could head into their Challenge Cup semi-final against Wigan sitting well outside the play-offs and in torrid form. They need a big reaction.

A tale of two squads
Before the match it was revealed that Leigh Leopards have eight players who have appeared in all 16 of their Super League games with key players such as Lam, Charnley, Asiata and Leutele among those. As for Rovers they had just two, Lewis and Litten. More important is who Rovers are missing with Jordan Abdull (hamstring), Lachlan Coote (retired), James Batchelor (neck), Jesse Sue (hamstring), Ethan Ryan (broken jaw) and Sam Wood (dislocated wrist) all out and having been out for the last few games. The continuity in the Leigh squad is hugely underestimated as a factor to their impressive season.

Player Ratings

Leigh Leopards

17: O’Brien – 7
2: Briscoe – 7
1: Hardaker – 7
4: Leutele – 8
5: Charnley – 8
15: Reynolds – 9
7: Lam – 7
10: Mulhern – 8
9: Ipape – 8
8: Amone – 7
3: Chamberlain – 8
16: Holmes – 6
13: Asiata – 7
Subs
12: Hughes – 6
14: Nakubuwai – NA
6: Mellor – NA
30: Norman – 6

Hull KR

35: Zenon – 5
36: Yaha – 5
3: Opacic – 5
4: Kenny-Dowall – 6
5: Hall – 6
20: Lewis – 6
21: Milnes – 5
26: Luckley – 5
14: Litten – 6
10: King – 6
22: Hadley – 6
12: Linnett – 6
13: Minchella – 5
Subs
9: Parcell – 6
15: Kennedy – 5
17: Storton – 7
27: Aydin – 5

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