Featherstone Rovers awaited the winners of the second AB Sundecks 1895 Cup game between the Sheffield Eagles and Leigh Centurions although the bookies, pundits, and most supporters believed that there could only be one winner.
The Eagles were given an almost unprecedented thirty-four-point start on the handicap coupon as they looked to overcome a six-place difference in the league table and pull off a miracle result and get themselves a trip to London.
But Mark Aston loves to be an underdog, and Adrian Lam wouldn´t take the challenge lightly.
A great kick from Anthony Thackeray took a cruel bounce for the Leigh defence and was collected by Kris Welham on the Centurions line to ground and give the Eagles the lead on four minutes. Izaac Farrell added the conversion for a 6-0 score line.
On thirteen the Eagles were awarded a penalty thirty metres from the posts and Farrell took the opportunity to extend the lead.
Leigh were back in the game on twenty-eight when Sam Stone split the Sheffield defence to score from five metres out. Krisnan Inu added the extras to reduce the arrears to just two points as the half hour approached.
With the half time hooter warning up there was a high tackle on Tyler Dickinson from Edwin Ipape with the Centurions substitute show a yellow card with Farrell kicking the penalty goal for a 10-6 interval lead.
It appeared that someone forgot to tell Sheffield that they were the underdogs as they delivered a terrific first half and kept the usually flamboyant Leigh pretty quiet, but Mark Aston would have been under no illusion, the second half would see a revitalised Centurions.
The paint must have been peeling on the Leigh changing room walls during the interval because the emerged from the second half with a new venom.
On forty-nine Kai O´Donnell powered over from short range from dummy half to get Leigh level at 10-10 and when Inu added the extras the Centurions were ahead for the first time in the game.
A high tackle from Wardle on Thackeray gave Farrell the chance to level the scores with the boot which he did from thirty metres from the sticks. With fifteen minutes remaining it was all square at 12-12.
On seventy-one McDonell jumped to take a high kick from Joe Mellor and drop to the floor to ground and once again put Leigh into the lead. Inu added the conversion for a six-point margin, Sheffield now needed a miracle.
On seventy-five Caleb Aekins hit the ball at speed and forced it down over the line under the tackle of a couple of Eagles defenders. Inu added a fourth conversion of the game for 24-12, Leigh home and hosed.
As the final hooter readied to sound Ed Chamberlain intercepted a wayward pass and went sixty metres to score under the sticks. Inu added the conversion for 30-12 and what looked like a comprehensive win.
All credit to the Sheffield Eagles who defied the pundits and the bookies to put in a sensational performance and run Leigh to the seventieth minute of the game with a performance which belied their season and current league position. It was a tremendous workout for Leigh as they fought back from a half time deficit to win and set up a tremendous 1895 final against the Featherstone Rovers.
Leigh Centurions: Aekins (T), Brand, Chamberlain (T), Macdonald, Inu (5G), Reynolds, Mellor, Sidlow, Smith, Amone, Wardle, Stone (T), Asiata. Subs: O´Donnell (T), McDonnell (T), Nakubuwai, Ipape (SB on 40).
Sheffield Eagles: Laulu-Togaga´e, Jones-Bishop, Welham (T), Johnson, Bass, Farrell I (4G), Thackeray, Douglas, Halafihi, Dickinson, Bower, Farrell J, Hodgson. Subs: Oakes, Wood, Broadbent, Holmes.
Score Progression: 0-4, 0-6, 0-8, 4-8, 6-8, (SB), 6-10 : HT : 10-10, 12-10, 12-12, 16-12, 18-12, 22-12, 24-12, 28-12, 30-12: FT.
Referee: Nick Bennett.