Leigh Leopards are going to Wembley after they defeated St Helens at Warrington Wolves’ Halliwell Jones Stadium yesterday and they will now face the winner of Wigan Warriors vs Hull KR at Leeds Rhinos’ Headingley Stadium in the Challenge Cup Final.
Leigh won the game in the second half after clinging on against a rampant St Helens side in the first 40.
After an early penalty in the second half, Oliver Holmes hit a great line to carve through and score arguably the biggest try of his career since scoring at Wembley for Castleford Tigers in 2014.
Then his former Castleford Tigers teammate struck what would prove to be the decisive blow. Lachlan Lam dribbled a kick behind the defence which was chased by both Tom Briscoe and Tee Ritson.
The ball evaded both men with Zak Hardaker grounding the ball inches away from the dead ball line.
The chase by Briscoe and Ritson was one of those that in the past has led to a penalty.
Many, including Paul Wellens, have questioned the decision. However, the words of Video Referee Marcus Griffiths explain why the try was given.
He described the chase by the two men as “a genuine contest.”
It would prove crucial as Leigh claimed a narrow win over the Saints.
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.
That was bettered by Zak Hardaker’s late try saver on Jonny Lomax.
Lomax did score eventually but it would be crucially out wide with Tommy Makinson missing the attempt at goal.
With Reynolds kicking the goal earlier in the game after a Sione Mata’utia yellow card on the 60th minute.