Leigh beat Sheffield Eagles to lift the Northern Rail Cup for the fourth time in 10 years

Last Updated: 20/07/13 9:30pm

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Leigh twice came from eight points down to beat Sheffield Eagles 43-28 and lift the Northern Rail Cup for the fourth time in 10 years.

The lead changed hands four times in a thoroughly entertaining final at Halifax before the Centurions turned on the style by scoring five tries in the last 21 minutes.

Sheffield's collapse came just a week after their dream of further Challenge Cup glory was dashed by Super League strugglers London Broncos and leaves coach Mark Aston having to pick his side up for their defence of the Championship title.

The 12th final, played in front of a crowd of just 4,179 at The Shay, had been a tight affair for an hour but opened up following the dismissal of Leigh winger Steve Maden and Sheffield prop Liam Higgins for their leading roles in an unsavoury brawl.

Man of the match Martyn Ridyard gave Leigh the lead with a fifth-minute penalty before Sheffield second rower Matt Garside carved open their defence to score the game's first try on 11 minutes.

The Eagles had a try by winger Scott Turner disallowed by video referee Ian Smith and they fell behind for a second time when evergreen Leigh centre Stuart Littler crashed over from Ryan Brierley's pass for the first of his two tries.

Sheffield, looking for their first success in the competition, looked to have taken a grip on the game when two of their Pacific Island stars, Menzie Yere and Misi Taulapapa, both touched down in a three-minute purple patch.

Yere proved unstoppable from five metres out to register his 33rd try of the season while Taulapapa finished off a move from halfway after scrum-half Dominic Brambani ran the ball on the last tackle.

Pounced

Brambani's second goal made it 16-8 but in the last move of the first half Leigh's replacement prop Anthony Bate pounced on Sean Penkywicz's grubber kick after the ball struck an upright and into his path.

Ridyard added the conversion to cut the gap to just two points at the break and brought his side level two minutes into the second half with a 40-metre penalty.

Both sides were then reduced to 12 men after Maden and Higgins were shown red cards for punching and that helped spark a points feast.

Brambani restored his side's lead with the resulting penalty and Sheffield added a fourth try shortly afterwards through Turner, who took full-back Quentin Laulu-Togagae's pass to produce a clinical finish at the corner.

At 24-16, the Eagles ought to have gone on to win it but both Turner and Laulu-Togagae fumbled high kicks to put their side under intense pressure and Leigh took full advantage to score twice in four minutes and retake the lead.

Centre Matt Gardner turned defence into attack with an interception which set up the position for on-loan Wigan prop Tom Spencer to touch down and then Littler accepted Tommy Goulden's long pass to cross unoppposed.

And there was no way back for Sheffield when Penkywicz went over from dummy half for the Centurions' fifth try on 67 minutes to put them six points in front.

Ryan Brierley landed a drop goal to provide them with breathing space and they finished in total command, with Brierley and Tommy Goulden adding further tries, with Ridyard taking his goal tally to seven from nine attempts.

The Eagles finished a well-beaten team but they at least had the final say when centre Tom Armstrong scored the game's last try in the last move of the match.

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