Dewsbury Rams 22
Leigh Centurions 40
By Andrew Hunt
DEWSBURY Rams produced a superb effort but it wasn’t quite enough as they slipped to a defeat against Leigh Centurions in their final Co-operative Championship game last Thursday.
The Rams left to a deserved standing ovation but although defeat saw them finish second-bottom in the table, they could yet be handed a reprieve from relegation.
Dewsbury produced their best display of the campaign and had they played like that all season they would have been challenging for a place in the play-offs, rather than battling near the foot of the table.
For 76 minutes, it appeared the Rams were heading for a bonus point, at least, but a late try from Hull bound scrum-half Jamie Ellis broke their hearts.
The game hinged on a crucial decision after 60 minutes when Austin Buchanan had a try ruled out by the video referee.
With the Rams trailing 28-22, Dominic Brambani stabbed the ball towards the try line and the lively Buchanan gathered and looked to have scored.
Teammates and fans alike celebrated but referee George Stokes handed the decision onto the video official.
Several television replays proved inconclusive as to whether Buchanan had grounded the ball but the biggest decision of the season went against the Rams.
Martyn Ridyard was then sent racing to the posts following a break by Tommy Goulden and Mick Nanyn’s conversion stretched Leigh’s lead to 12 points.
The Rams were still on course for a point but in the 76th minute Ellis scored and Nanyn converted.
There was almost a dramatic finale as Buchanan attempted to intercept a pass near his own line but just couldn’t hold onto the ball and their final chance was gone.
It was harsh on Dewsbury, who had played so well to give Leigh a real scare in the first half.
Dewsbury created early chances but it was Leigh who took the lead against the run of play when Ellis stabbed the ball towards the line and it hit the base of a post and popped up for James Taylor to score and Nanyn goaled.
The Rams hit back in style as the impressive James Craven made a great break on the right and raced 50 yards to set up a good field position.
They moved quickly left and Pat Walker chipped the ball over the defence. It appeared to be heading for touch just before the try line but Buchanan did superbly to flip it back inside for Ayden Faal to score.
The video referee was called up for the first time but awarded the try.
Leigh responded as Taylor and Steve Nash linked to send full-back Stuart Donlan to the line and Nanyn converted.
Dewsbury repelled a spell of Leigh pressure but when referee Stokes wiped a tackle count clear after the ball ricochetted off a defender’s leg, it provided the opportunity for Nanyn to score out wide and extend the lead to 16-4.
Dewsbury then produced a wonderful spell.
Craven made another storming break and fed Faal, who was grounded but not held and he got up to continue the move.
Dewsbury moved right and Michael Wainwright forced his way over in the corner, with Walker landing a superb touchline goal.
Rob Spicer then raced through but was pulled back just short of the line and flung the ball behind him. Matty Nicholson gathered and dived over the line but there was another lengthy hold up when Mr Stokes again handed the decision onto the video ref.
Replays showed Goulden had knocked the ball from Nicholson’s grasp by diving in with his knees and a penalty try was awarded, with Walker’s conversion levelling matters.
Shortly after Walker edged Dewsbury ahead with a penalty as the Rams scored 14 points in just eight minutes.
Nanyn stretched over for his second try, which he also improved, but in first half injury time the Rams struck with another well worked try.
Brambani chipped over the defence into space and Buchanan showed great awareness to storm through and snatch it away from a defender to score his 16th try of the season. Walker’s converted as a pulsating first half ended 22-22.
Chris Hill stormed over for an early second half try, which Nanyn converted and although Dewsbury produced a determined effort they were unable to breach the Leigh line again as the game slipped away.
Dewsbury Rams: Craven; Wainwright, Smith, Faal, Buchanan; Walker, Brambani; England, Blake, Crossley, Spicer, Lockwood, Barlow. Subs (all used): Menzies, Nicholson, Cosgrove, Fletcher.
Leigh Centurions: Donlan; Maden, Litler, Nanyn, McGilvray; Ridyard, Ellis; Hill, Duffy, Nash, Thornley, Goulden, Taylor. Subs (all used): Hunter-Paul, Hopkins, Armstrong, Mills.
Referee: George Stokes. Attendance: 933.