Leigh Centurions 19 Barrow Raiders 18

Barrow Raiders’ road to Wembley was blocked off by Leigh Centurions’ Martyn Ridyard as his late drop goal settled what was a pulsating quarter final in the 1895 Cup at St Helens.

The competition has had its critics in what is its first year, but try telling each of the players on the field that it is merely a distraction from the Championship after a match that never dipped in ferocity.

Although it ended in defeat, this was another massive effort from the rejuvenated Raiders,who led twice at the Totally Wicked Stadium having initially come back from 10-0 down.

With nine of the starting line-up backing up after last Sunday’s win at Featherstone, there are bound to be some aching bodies this morning, but there’s no time to dwell on this, as Toulouse visit Craven Park on Sunday.

A sloppy Raiders pass just inside their own half increased that pressure and it led to the opening try for Leigh after 11 minutes as full back Gregg McNally went through a gap on the left to saunter into the corner.

The visitors recovered to put together a few sets of their own with a promising attack coming to an end when Wartovo Puara knocked on a loose off-load from Alec Susino when tackles were still in hand.

Following a penalty for a high tackle in the shadow of Barrow’s posts, the Centurions had their second try when Joe Cator dummied before scoring down the right, with Ridyard adding the conversion.

However, the Raiders put themselves back in the picture when a lovely off-load from Brett Carter near the Leigh line allowed Jordan Walne to dive over and Ryan Johnston’s goal reduced the gap to 10-6.

The hosts thought they were about to extend their lead a minute before half-time when Cator powered towards the posts, only to be somehow held up by a fantastic tackle from Carter.

Johnston superbly converted the try from out wide and, out of nowhere, the Raiders were 12-10 ahead and threatening an upset.

That became even more of a possibility on 49 minutes when Johnston’s kick down the left was inexplicably allowed to bounce and the half-back followed up to carry the ball over the line, although he couldn’t convert this time.

The Centurions side kept hammering away, though, and got their reward in the 64th minute when Jordan Thompson crashed through a tackle to score and Ridyard’s goal levelled the match.

Parity lasted just four minutes, as the Raiders were awarded a penalty in front of the posts and Johnston duly restored their lead.

That survived when Ridyard sent a very kickable penalty from 40 metres out wide, but he didn’t let Barrow off the hook with a simpler effort with just five minutes to go.

Then followed heartbreak, as Ridyard was teed up for a drop goal 20 metres out after a strong carry from Luke Adamson and he calmly slotted it over.

Leigh Centurions: McNally, Cox, Thornley, Sims, Marsh, Ridyard, Woods, Douglas, Eaves, L Adamson, T Adamson, Bachelor, Cator.

Interchange: Hood, Emmitt, Thompson, Patterson.

Tries: McNally 11, Cator 24, Thompson 64

Goals: Ridyard (3)

Drop goals: Ridyard

Barrow Raiders: Cresswell, B Carter, Amean, Spedding, Cross, Johnston, Puara, Johnson, Smith, Susino, Walne, Paisley, D Toal.

Interchange: Riley, Walker, Loxam, Ritson.

Tries: Walne 29, Cresswell 46, Johnston 49

Goals: Johnston (3)

Referee: Gareth Hewer

Attendance: 1,012

Raiders star man: Wartovo Puara