Pundits slam decision to reduce St Helens to 12 men

Leigh Leopards and St Helens are battling it out in a tight and physical affair in the Challenge Cup semi-final at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium.

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.

Leigh are holding in there and in a two minute spell they were given a man advantage as Jack Welsby was shown a green card to recover from a hit from Ipape.

This is a new concept which we have seen over the last two seasons but has been focused upon even more in 2023.

However, Kevin Brown and John Kear were critical of the decision.

Brown said on BBC: “I think that is a little harsh to be honest. Welsby gets wiped out by Ipape after he kicks it and it probably could have been a penalty for St Helens for that to be honest. It was very close.”

John Kear added: “Yeah, for me that rule is a little too black and white for me. That doesn’t deserve to be a penalty but Welsby shouldn’t be forced off the field for it.

“I’d like to see that changed at some point if I’m honest.”

There has been a bit of a shift in the energy battle after this green card was shown as Leigh begin to eat into St Helens’ field position more frequently.

Welsby is back on the field after recovering from the hit within the two minute green card spell.