With 33 seconds left on the clock, Ryan Brierley notched the winning drop goal as newly promoted Leigh beat the Champions St Helens.
Leigh put the rest of Super League on notice just two weeks before the start of the new season with a surprise win over the Saints. The Centurions put in a dogged performance matching the back-to-back Champions blow for blow in a pre-season friendly even recovering from 18-6 down at halftime.
The game was played in honour of Tommy Makinson. The 2018 Golden Boot winner was rightly handed a testimonial having given 10 years of service to St Helens. He celebrated with a try in the corner that gave Saints that 18-6 advantage.
He was very nearly the hero too as his try and goal levelled the game late on only for Brierley to snatch it with a drop goal.
Leigh started the game the better with Jamie Ellis scoring the game’s opener and converting. However, tries from Kevin Naiqama, the debuting Joel Thompson and the man of the hour Tommy Makinson gave Saints the halftime lead.
Nine minutes into the second half, Leigh got the comeback show on the road as Matty Russell scampered in. Then in the 58th minute Adam Sidlow forced his way over. Ellis’ third conversion from three attempts levelled the scores. The Super League new boys then took the lead when Brierley poached Ellis’ kick for a superb try.
Makinson’s second try and fourth goal levelled things for St Helens but Brierley’s late drop goal meant the winger’s day ended in defeat.
For Saints it’s probably just a bump in the road as they look to defend their title. However, it’s a hugely positive sign for Leigh as they show they’re not just here to make up the numbers.
Brierley, Russell, Thornley, Sa’u, Brand, Ellis, Mellor, Mason, Hood, Ioane, Hellewell, Gee, Thompson. Subs: Widlie, Gerrard, Peteru, Sidlow, Mullen, Spencer
Tries: Brierley, Sidlow, Russell, Ellis
Goals: Ellis 4/4
Drop goals: Brierley
Welsby, Makinson, Simm, Percival, Naiqama, Lomax, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia. Subs: Amor, Passi, Smith, Dodd, Wingfield, Eaves, Norman, Nisbet, Foster, Rizzelli, Davies, Royle
Tries: Makinson 2, Naiqama, Thompson
Goals: Makinson 4/4
Referee: James Child