Heart-broken York Wasps had what would have been their most impressive victory of the season snatched from their grasp in the most cruellest of fashions by Leigh Centurions.

Leading by six points with less than 10 minutes to go, York looked to be on the verge of a famous victory but somehow managed to leave Huntington Stadium empty-handed.

Andy Preston had set the home crowd alight 12 minutes from time when he intercepted Adam Bristow's pass and out-paced winger Allan Hadcroft as he raced 70 metres for the most wonderful try.

That score, followed by an Andy Precious penalty for a high tackle on Mark Cain, had put York 22-16 ahead. But Leigh were determined not to slump to their third defeat in a week and showed incredible resilience to hit back.

It was so unfortunate that it was a mistake by one of York's star men, scrum-half Gareth Dobson, that led to the try which levelled matters for Leigh.

He fluffed Paul Anderson's innocuous looking chip behind his own line and Dobson's opposite number, Kieron Purtill, was on hand to get the touchdown.

Paul Wingfield's conversion made it all square then with two minutes to go, Andy Hill and Andy Preston couldn't halt Alan Cross's charge down the left flank and he slipped the ball inside for full-back Stuart Donlan to land the killer punch.

It was unjust on York who had deserved at least a share of the spoils. Despite their lowly position, they never looked second best against a side harbouring realistic hopes of becoming NFP champions.

Andy Precious worked tirelessly at loose-forward after several weeks out, as did all his fellow forwards, most notably Steve Hill.

The three-quarters finally began to show the penetration which has been lacking, while Dobson and Cain are looking more and more like the solution to York's once problematic half-back combination.

Their understanding is growing with each game and once again they were outstanding at the heart of the York attack.

Poor Cain is a glutton for punishment though, and he was again on the receiving end of some unsavoury challenges in the second half.

In addition to a couple of high tackles, he appeared to be kicked in the face by Leigh substitute Chris Causey.

That incident, one of many not spotted by referee Ronnie Laughton, brought the home supporters to their feet and could prompt York to take further action.

Another incident, in which Steve Hill and Precious apparently dumped Donlan head-first in a tackle, was also missed but was at least put on report.

However, those moments shouldn't detract from what was an enthralling meeting.

It swung one way then the other, with Leigh drawing first blood after Precious had missed a kickable penalty for York.

Paul Anderson was put through a huge gap by Purtill and full-back Darren Callaghan failed to complete the one-on-one tackle, leaving Anderson with a clear run to the line.

Wingfield was wide with a seemingly simple conversion and eight minutes later York were level. Leigh winger Allan Hadcroft fumbled Callaghan's low kick into the corner and Matt Woodcock pounced to score.

Earlier Chris Judge had gathered Cain's chip and sent Callaghan over the line but it was ruled out for offside. Now they had another try disallowed when Callaghan's pass to Precious went forward.

Instead it was Leigh who went back in front when Purtill again provided the pass for Anderson to make the most of an overlap and score in the corner which Wingfield converted.

York produced the perfect response when, instead of working the run-around with Dobson, Cain opted to run himself, forced his way through a two-man tackle and found Andy Hill tearing through at pace to score under the sticks, leaving Precious with an easy goal.

Craig Forsyth was held up over the line as York looked to gain an advantage before half-time but they couldn't get the break and it was Leigh were back in front two minutes after the re-start

Donlan was brought down inches short by a miraculous tackle from Max Ryce but the Welshman's efforts were in vain as Leigh swung the ball out and Radney Bowker hoisted a bomb which caused confusion between Woodcock and Callaghan, leaving Purtill to pick up the loose ball and score.

York hit back when Lambert took Chris Judge's superb pass out of the tackle and showed tremendous strength to brush off two tackles and score out wide.

That set up the frantic finale which for so long looked likely to go York's way until that cruel late blow.

Coach Garry Atkins, who jets off to Las Vegas tomorrow, will miss the next two games but at least after this performance he can leave safe in the knowledge that the foundations of a York revival have been laid.

Northern Ford Premiership Sunday, April 16, at Huntington Stadium

York 22, Leigh 28

YORK WASPS: Darren Callaghan 7, Matt Woodcock 7, Andy Preston 7, Andrew Lambert 7, Max Ryce 7, Mark Cain 8, Gareth Dobson 8, Mick Hagan 7, Alan Pallister 7, Steve Hill 8, Chris Judge 7, Andy Hill 7, Andy Precious 8.

Subs: Paul Darley (for S Hill 55) 7, Craig Forsyth (Hagan 29) 7. Not Used: John McCracken.

Blood-bin: Craig Robinson (for Dobson 19, returned 21)

Tries: Woodcock (16), A Hill (33), Lambert (58), Preston (66)

Goals: Precious 3 (inc. 1 penalty)

Guildford Construction/ Evening Press Man of the Match

Mark Cain: Half-backs Cain and Dobson were both outstanding but Cain just gets the nod for surviving his rough treatment!. Hard-working and creative

LEIGH: Stuart Donlan, Paul Wingfield, Paul Anderson, Alan Cross, Allan Hadcroft, Radney Bowker, Kieron Purtill, Tim Street, Saf Patel, David Whittle, Simon Baldwin, Heath Cruikshank, Adam Bristow.

Subs: David Ingram (for Bowker 61), Chris Causey (Whittle 79), Paul Norman (Whittle 35), Graham Close (Patel 24).

Re-subs: Whittle for Norman 60, Patel for Close 63. Blood bin: Causey (Cruikshank 55, returned 64)

Tries: Anderson (2, 26), Purtill (43, 73), Donlan (78).

Conversions: Wingfield 4

York Leigh

Penalties: 8 10

Scrums won: 13 8

40/20 kicks: 0 0

Half-time: 10 10

Referee: Ronnie Laughton (Barnsley)

Attendance: 814

Match rating: 8/10

York's next match: Friday, April 21, v Doncaster at Belle Vue, 7.30pm kick-off