Bradford welcomed Leigh to the Tetleys Stadium at Odsal for the final Betfred Challenge Cup fifth round tie, with a visit to Hull Kingston Rovers in the sixth round the reward for the winners.
The Bulls started as the clear underdogs on their narrow pitch, but in John Kear they had a coach with a famous Cup record, his four Final wins as a coach include Sheffied's famous Wembley upset over lear favourites Wigan in 1998.
And they had a horror start when Ben Reynolds' kick-off for Leigh bounced into touch and gave the visitors possession on the 20 for an opening set which ended by forcing a drop-out.
Luckily for the hosts, the Centurions' attack petered out in a knock-on.
The Bulls recovered from that start and dominated the early play from then. And when they got a penalty for offside in the 13th minute, Bradford opted to kick for goal and Declan Patton duly slotted it over to open the scoring at 2-0.
Leigh responded with a set of powerful drives up the middle and a six-again set in their opponents danger zone, but all they got to show with it was a kick over the dead-ball line and a seven-tackle set for Bradford starting on the 20m mark.
A break up with right by Ryan Millar saw him pass inside to Kieran Gill with space in front of him. Gill dodged the the defenders running across to dot down and Patton's conversion took the score to 8-0.
But as the half-hour mark approached, a penalty gave the Centurions a full set in their hosts' 20m and Adam Sidlow powered over under the sticks after a series of desperate Bradford goal line tackles. Faced with a simple kick, Reynolds converted to take the score to 8-6.
Leigh kept up the pressure, with Mark Ioane and Edwin Ipape joining the fray, and the Centurions won a penalty less than 10m out, to the right of the posts. Reynolds made no mistake and levelled the scores at 8-8, with seconds to go to half time.
The Centurions pressed again in a bid to take the lead, but were beaten by the clock and went to the sheds level.
Leigh kept up the pressure when play resumed and threatened a score to take the lead when Nene Macdonald took a high kick, but was blown up for being offside.
That spurred more attacking involvement from Bradford. It didn't result in a score for the opening 10 minutes but did pressurise Leigh into mistakes.
And when the pressure led to Matt Dawson-Jones breaking down the side, he chipped ahead only to be blocked by an Adam Sidlow tackle which earned the Leigh sorward 10 minutes in the sin bin. Dawson-Jones got his try in the next play, dashing over in the corner. Patton had a difficult job converting from the touch line, but cooly kicked the goal.
Just minutes later, Leigh added to their own woes by giving away a penalty which Patton also kicked.
With 60 minutes gone, the Bulls had restored their 8 point lead at 16-8.
However, this was nothing if not a see-saw game and next it was Leigh's turn to pressure their opponents' line with repeat sets after Bradford mistakes until Macdonal powered over full-back Keir for their own score. Reynolds converted and now the gap was back to two points at 16-14.
15 minutes of see-saw momentum followed with each team looking to have chances, and making mistakes, until Chamberlain crossed in the corner and ran towards the posts before grounding the ball to give Reynolds an easier converson. He goaled and for the first time - after 75 minutes - Leigh led on the scoreboard at 16-20.
Bradford tried everything they could to recapture the lead but didn't have the time and when the hooter sounded to mark 80 minutes, it was Leigh who were in the Challenge Cup last 16, where Hull Kr await them - and into the last five of the 1895 Cup.
It was a classic Cup performance from a John Kear coached team by Bradford though, even if they couldn't get through to the next round. Leigh will be relieved at the result, while the Bulls players will be disappointed at letting the game get away from them in the last few minutes.
Bradford Bulls: Kear; Dawson-Jones (T), Murphy, Gill (T), Millar; Patton (2P, 2G), Lilley; Evans, Doyle, Walker, Scott, Buttler, Baldwinson. Subs: Flanagan, Kubula, Evans, Scurr.
Leigh Centurions: Aekins, Dixon, Macdonald (T), Chamberlain (T), Brand. Reynolds (3G, P), Mellor,; Amone, Smith, Sidlow (T, SB55), Stone, Wardle, Asiata. Subs: Ioane, Jones, Hingano, Ipape.
Half Time: 8-8
Full Time: 16-20
Score Progression: 2-0, 6-0, 8-0, 8-4, 8-6, 8-8. HT. 12-8, 14-8, 16-8, 16-12, 16-14, 16-18, 16-20.
Venue: Tetley's Stadium, Odsal
Referee: Marcus Griffiths