Leigh and Castleford draw in extra-time classic

Betfred Super League

Leigh (18) 28

Tries: Moylan, Ipape, Charnley, Leutele, Lam Goals: Moylan 4

Castleford (10) 28

Tries: L Senior 2, Hoy, Wood, I Senior Goals: Milnes 4

Edwin Ipape’s return from injury sparked a Leigh Leopards comeback but they had to share the spoils with Castleford in a thrilling Super League extra-time draw.

The Papua New Guinea hooker had missed Leigh’s last seven games after injuring knee ligaments in their opening round defeat to Huddersfield.

But Ipape came on after 25 minutes and immediately looked influential, scoring one try and playing a part in two more as his side recovered a 10-point deficit following scores by Louis Senior and Tex Hoy.

Matt Moylan, Luke Charnley, Ricky Leutele and Lachlan Lam also crossed the line for Leigh, with Moylan adding four conversions.

However, Sam Wood’s try kept the Tigers in contention and both Senior and his brother Inniss went over in the closing stages to force extra-time.

Ipape set up drop-goal opportunities for both Moylan and Lam during the extra 10 minutes, but neither could kick the golden point and clinch victory.

Both defences had remained tight during recent wins over Catalans and London respectively and neither looked like being breached during a stop-start opening 10 minutes that included several turnovers.

A wayward pass from Moylan, deep in Tigers territory, provided Senior with the opportunity to open the scoring as he raced 80m to touch down – and the visitors soon extended their lead further.

Castleford moved the ball from right to left as Jacob Miller set up Hoy to register his first try for the club and the Leopards looked ragged, with another Senior score chalked off for a forward pass and Elie El-Zakhem also coming up just short of the line.

But Ipape’s introduction after 25 minutes appeared to galvanise his side as he immediately combined with Lam to send Moylan through, darting inside for their first try of the game.

Ipape followed that up with a try of his own after his kick rebounded off a Tigers defender and, when Charnley forced his way over in the corner on the stroke of half-time, Leigh had suddenly carved out an 18-10 advantage.

They extended that after the turnaround as Ipape and Lam combined for Leutele to go over and Leopards debutant Louis Brogan had a try disallowed, pouncing after Hoy had fumbled Moylan’s kick.

However, Hoy atoned for that error by racing clear to set up Wood, whose score provided the Tigers with a glimmer of hope – only for Lam to make it 28-16, snapping up Charnley’s pass to finish off a slick move.

Castleford penned their hosts back during the final 10 minutes and Hoy tipped on Miller’s pass for Inniss Senior before Louis grabbed his second try of the game, touching down in the corner.

Rowan Milnes held his nerve to level the scores, kicking from a tight angle and the teams regrouped for an additional 10 minutes – but Moylan’s drop-goal attempt struck a post and Lam’s flew wide at the death.

Post-match reaction

Leigh coach Adrian Lam:

"I don’t think we deserved to lose the game. For us to take the next step forward we need to get better with our execution.

"We got ourselves in position to win the game several times. I’m not blaming anyone for that – I thought we did well to get into those positions in the first place."

Castleford coach Craig Lingard:

"If you asked me midway through the first half I’d say (it feels like) a point dropped. But if you asked me in the second, I’d say a point won.

"I thought we were lucky to be 10 points up in the first half because Leigh had dominated in attack and defence.

"We have talked about developing and toughening our mentality of competing and we played well in spells but not for the full 80 minutes.

"Those periods of the game are getting bigger and the bad ones are getting smaller. But we are getting there – the last couple of games have given us some confidence for the coming weeks."

Leigh: Moylan, Hanley, Hardaker, Leutele, Charnley, McNamara, Lam, Amone, Dwyer, Trout, O'Donnell, Halton, Hughes.

Interchanges: Holmes, Davis, Ipape, Brogan

Castleford: Hoy, L Senior, C Hall, Wood, I Senior, Milnes, Miller, Watts, McShane, Westerman, Mellor, El-Zakhem, Hill.

Interchanges: Horne, S Hall, Robb, Martin

Referee: James Vella.