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Challenge Cup: Leigh Leopards 26-14 Featherstone Rovers - Umyla Hanley scores hat-trick for hosts

Betfred Challenge Cup

Leigh (14) 26

Tries: Hanley 3, Charnley, Moylan Goals: Moylan 3

Featherstone (4) 14

Tries: Wacokecoke 2, Gale Goals: Addy

Umyla Hanley's hat-trick helped Leigh see off underdogs Featherstone in an excellent Challenge Cup last-16 tie.

The son of Great Britain legend Ellery went over for three tries in a well-contested first half.

Manoa Wacokecoke ran in two long-distance tries to keep Rovers in sight, as the wind played havoc with both sides' kicking games.

Josh Charnley and Matt Moylan seemed to have ended the contest but Gareth Gale scored again to reduce the deficit.

Featherstone went into the tie against Super League opposition with confidence, as they were the only side to beat Adrian Lam's team in the Leopards' record-breaking promotion season in 2022.

They were on the front foot from the start, but the difference between the Super League and Championship sides was immediately shown, Harry Bowes coughing up possession as Fev attacked - allowing Leigh to go up the other end for Hanley to finish superbly.

That was trumped by flying Fijian Wacokecoke who, from deep in his own half, raced past Josh Charnley, and survived tackles by Zak Hardaker and Hanley to score in the corner and light up Leigh Sports Village.

A sharp tip pass by Jack Hughes freed Hanley for his second and, after Featherstone forward McKenzie Yei was sin-binned for a spear tackle, Hanley made use of the extra space for his third - and a 10-point advantage at half time.

With Yei about to return, Wacokecoke struck again, intercepting Ben McNamara's pass and racing away to narrow the gap.

Coach Lam was unnerved enough to send on his son and main playmaker Lachlan, back on the bench after injury, and with Rovers' main pivot Thomas Lacans forced off, the game seemed to have swung in Leopards' favour.

Lam dictated play for 20 minutes, with Charnley and Moylan both profiting with tries down the left-hand side, but Rovers refused to lie down.

Their new signing Paul Turner, fresh from St George Illawarra in the NRL, had a superb second half as a sub, denying Hanley a fourth try with a marvellous tackle and then bouncing out of three tackles, throwing two dummies and flipping a gorgeous pass that led to Gale going over in the corner.

Rovers deserved their strong finish but Moylan rounded things off with a penalty from the last kick of the game.

Leigh head coach Adrian Lam told BBC Radio Manchester:

"I'm a little bit disappointed, more frustrated. You get that in these games sometimes, where we had a full-back change in the first half and the whole side was disrupted, but we did enough to get through to the next round, which is all we needed to do.

"We gave every respect to Featherstone during the week to make sure we didn't disrespect or underestimate them in any way and we started really well, but a couple of errors crept into the game and that's not ideal.

[On Hanley]: "His work-rate is incredible at the moment and he's a powerhouse. He's earned the right through pre-season and it's important we keep bringing through young players like that.

"We also gave Keanan Brand an opportunity but unfortunately he's injured his medial ligament and will be out for a couple of weeks now."

Leigh: Brand, Hanley, Hardaker, Leutele, Charnley, Moylan, McNamara, Norman, Davis, Mulhern, O'Donnell, Halton, Hughes

Interchanges: Nakubuwai, Holmes, Trout, Lam

Featherstone: Aekins, Wacokecoke, Hardcastle, Minikin, Gale, Bowes, Lacans, Springer, Jones, Albert, Day, Tomlinson, Addy

Interchanges: Turner, Yei, Wynne, England

Referee: Jack Smith.