Doncaster 24 Leigh 16: Dons topple Championship leaders

Action from the Dons' famous win
Action from the Dons' famous win

Doncaster became the first team to beat runaway Championship leaders Leigh Centurions, winning 24-16 in a classic encounter at the Keemoat Stadium.

The fourth-placed Dons produced a magnificent second half display, scoring four unanswered tries – the final one being an 80 metre interception by Ben Crooks at the death - to end Leigh’s run.

The Dons’ win was even more praiseworthy given that it was without player-coach Paul Cooke who missed his first game of the season with a neck injury.

The Dons, who had come under early pressure, took the lead with a superb 70 metre try by winger Tom Hodson, who showed blistering pace to beat the cover after latching on to a dropped ball in his own half.

Leigh hit back on eight minutes, loose-forward Sam Barlow’s off-load putting prop Martin Aspinwall over from close range for a try converted by Ryan Brierley.

There was a let off for the Dons on 16 minutes when Leigh hooker Sean Penkywicz dropped the ball over the line in the act of scoring.

Scrum-half Brierley showed just why he is attracting the interest of big Super League clubs on 22 minutes when he latched on to another excellent off-load in the tackle by Barlow and raced into the clear before beating Scott, no slouch himself, for pace on an angled 40 metre run to the line.

The Dons hit back in determined fashion and would have drawn level on the half-hour had centre Liam Welham held on to Wilkinson’s cut-out pass a couple of metres out.

It was to prove a costly mistake.

Liam Kay latched onto the loose ball and took play into the Doncaster half from which position Penkywicz weaved his way over from close range.

The resulting conversion saw Leigh open up a 16-6 interval lead.

Leigh dominated the opening exchanges after the break and went close on a couple of occasions.

The Dons regrouped and Scott Spaven forced his way on 50 minutes near enough for Scott to convert.

Leigh full-back Gregg McNally had a ‘try’ disallowed for a double movement just short of the hour.

The Dons drew level on 63 minutes with an unconverted try by Crooks from Hodson’s kick.

Playing with a belief that they could win the game, the Dons edged into a 20-16 lead on 67 minutes, Hodson crossing in the corner after some slick handling.

The Doncaster line came under sustained pressure in a nail-biting finale but Leigh couldn’t force their way through.

* Dons: Scott, Sanderson, Welham, Crooks, Hodson, Miller, Wilkinson, Carbutt, Kesik, Robinson, Starling, Snitch, Emmett. Subs: Spaven, Spiers, Wilson, Waterman.

Referee: T Crashley.