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Challenge Cup: Robbie Ward helps Leeds Rhinos past Leigh Centurions
A 73rd-minute try by Challenge Cup debutant Robbie Ward helped Leeds Rhinos to a 25-12 quarter-final win against Championship side Leigh.
With the teams locked at 12-12 and extra-time looming, it looked as though the Rhinos would set up for a drop goal, but 18-year-old Ward had other ideas and nicked a cheeky try from dummy-half to break the Centurions' hearts.
The win sees Leeds through to the last four of the competition, where they join Thursday's winners Widnes Vikings.
However, despite suffering their first defeat in any competition this season, the visitors will rightly take most of the plaudits for the way they applied themselves in almost pulling off one of the biggest shocks in the history of the sport.
Improbably, they had led 12-6 for 16 first-half minutes after tries from Tom Spencer and Tom Armstrong, both goaled by Martyn Ridyard, in reponse to an early score by Ryan Hall for the home side. Stevie Ward then levelled it for Leeds.
With former England skipper Jamie Peacock and Matt Sarsfield both sin-binned after an altercation early in the second-half, a more open game might have been anticipated.
But Leigh kept pressing the Rhinos and forcing them into errors, while the home side also made an alarming number of unforced mistakes and kept their opponents interested.
With nine minutes remaining the Centurions looked to be shaping for a drop goal to edge their way back in front. However, a loose offload found its way to winger Tom Briscoe and moments later Robbie Ward was scoring at the other end.
The relief was palpable among the Rhinos players while Leigh, who had huffed and puffed, finally had their house blown down.
Sinfield slotted over a drop goal to make certain of victory, before Hardaker got on the end of a Peacock break to complete the tryscoring and give the final score a lopsided look.