Leigh gave us a shock - Peacock
Jamie Peacock kept alive his dream of winning the Challenge Cup at Wembley but only just as Leeds were pushed all the way by part-time Championship leaders Leigh in a rousing quarter-final at Headingley.
The former England captain emerged from a spell in the sin-bin to create a try for full-back Zak Hardaker that put the finishing touches to a 25-12 victory on Friday night that takes the Rhinos to within 80 minutes of the August 23 final.
Leeds scored 13 points in the last eight minutes to give themselves a flattering margin of victory over the magnificent Centurions, who were good value for an early 12-6 lead and were still level until teenage hooker Robbie Ward burrowed his way over for the all-important try on 72 minutes.
"That was as tough as a Super League game," Peacock said. "I just want to give Leigh all the credit. I thought they were fantastic. They played well with the ball, they were tenacious and they k ept going right to the end.
"That team would not look out of place in Super League.
"P laying full-time we were bound to be fitter and we should come away in that last 20 minutes which we did but I thought Leigh gave us a shock and a real game. We were worried."
Leigh coach Paul Rowley was justified in his decision to field a full-strength team but they were dealt blows with injuries to both centres Adam Higson and tryscorer Tom Armstrong which he felt were crucial factors as their club-record 16-match winning run was brought to a glorious end.
"We're not in the hat and I can't get over the disappointment but I thought we showed some true grit and determination and ability out there and probably showed one or two Super League teams what it's all about," Rowley said.
"We wanted to win and we believed we could win. We genuinely did. To lose one centre early and the other late on and have one fit player on the bench at the end, we did it tough. I thought if our centres stayed on, we win the game."
Leeds will go into the hat for Sunday's semi-final draw alongside Widnes, who were 56-6 winners over Keighley on Thursday, and they will be joined by the winners of the two all-Super League ties, with holders Wigan hosting Castleford on Saturday afternoon and 2012 winners Warrington going to Bradford on Sunday.