Leigh Leopards have enjoyed an astonishing campaign in 2023 finishing above the likes of Leeds Rhinos, Warrington Wolves, Hull FC and others.
They won the Challenge Cup for the first time since 1971, defied relegation for the first time in Super League and became the first team since play off opponents Hull KR to survive in Super League and the first team to do so under the generic promotion and relegation system since 2007 as well as making the play offs for the first time but their season is now over.
The club made the following statement:
“It wasn’t to be tonight but it’s been a year no one will forget. 🐆
“From the best freaking night of your life to The Challenge Cup Final and everything in between, we will cherish every single memory. ❤️
“Thank you for sharing in this chapter of our story with us.”
This was always going to be a great game as a rematch of the first Challenge Cup Final without Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and St Helens since 1986.
Hull KR had secured home advantage in the game last week but, despite trying to speed the game up, had to battle through a number of errors.
They conceded the opening points after a strange penalty against Matt Parcell. He was in front of the play the ball but got involved in the play and was subsequently offside.
He was penalised and Ben Reynolds nailed the penalty to give the Leopards the advantage early on.
They had a few chances to build pressure especially after a huge hit by Lachlan Lam which saw the ball knocked free but on the next set the Leopards squandered the opportunity with James Batchelor mopping up a kick.
Hull KR slowly but surely battled back into the game ironically by speeding the game up around the ruck and on the back of inroads created by dummy half runs, Elliot Minchella won a penalty due to a high tackle from Joe Wardle.
This time Brad Schneider nailed a penalty to make it 2-2. He looked destined to score the opener after some great interplay between Jack Walker and Matt Parcell – two Grand Final winners in 2017 with Leeds Rhinos – saw them carve open the Leopards with a series of offloads.
But the last pass to Schneider was deemed forward denting an attacking opportunity that most days would be described as a certain try but Ed Chamberlain came across to tackle him after the whistle was blown.
However, Hull KR would eventually get the opening try with a nice set play putting James Batchelor through a gap before an offload to Jack Walker to score.
Then another former Leeds star pounced on a brilliant one on one strip by Matt Parcell. On the next play Ryan Hall powered over despite the efforts of Joe Mellor.
A try just before the break, they got one just after the break after an error from Gareth O’Brien with Sam Luckley getting over for a relatively easy try with a disguised run.
Leigh then had a try disallowed for obstruction around the ruck but did get themselves back in the game when Josh Charnley scored in the corner after a sweeping move.
But Hull KR secured their semi-final spot with a penalty.