Sheffield shock Leigh in Championship play-offs

Robbie Hunter-Paul’s 17-year professional career was brought to an abrupt end tonight after his Leigh Centurions side were beaten in the Co-operative Championship final eliminator.

Sheffield Eagles became the first club from outside the top two to reach the Grand Final thanks to a surprise 20-10 win at Leigh Sports Village and they will take on Featherstone in the title decider at Warrington on Sunday week.

The defeat meant the end of an era as it signalled retirement for New Zealander Paul, who has enjoyed a distinguished career in British rugby league since joining Bradford in 1994.

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The result also brought to an end Ian Millward’s third stint as coach of the Centurions as he prepares to take over at Super League club Castleford.

Sheffield led 8-0 at half-time thanks to substitute Sam Scott’s first try for the club and two goals from Simon Brown.

Leigh captain Stuart Donlan pulled a try back early in the second half and Mick Nanyn’s goal cut the deficit to two points but quickfire tries from Vinnie Finnigan and Quentin Laulu-Togagau put the visitors in total control.

Nanyn grabbed a second try for the home side eight minutes from the end but it was too little, too late as Sheffield celebrated a maiden Championship Grand Final appearance.

The game was held up for seven minutes to allow Leigh centre Adam Higson to be treated for concussion.