LEIGH Centurions are riding high at the top of the Co-operative Championship table with an unbeaten record in all competitions and optimism high for the Grand Final, Northern Rail Cup and Carnegie Challenge Cup challenges that lie ahead.
The Centurions are without a league fixture this weekend, but that gives coach Ian Millward valuable time to prepare his side for the Northern Rail Cup quarter final against the Widnes Vikings that will be televised on Sky Sports next Thursday, with a 7.30pm kick off.
Leigh walloped the Vikings 54-16 last Sunday, but Millward knows that such a hiding will only serve to fire up their rivals when the two sides meet next week.
“We played some pretty outstanding stuff in the second half on Sunday, and they could not live with us,” he said. “But we were still trailing 16-8 at half time, and Widnes did enough in that first half to show they are a side very capable of overcoming the disappointment of Sunday’s result and coming to the Leigh Sports Village and giving us one heck of a cup game.”
Never-the-less, the magnitude of Leigh’s win at the weekend will certainly fill the camp with optimism, and especially after the way the team bounced back from being behind to run in 46 unanswered points in the second half.
It had been the same the previous week against Barrow when Leigh blasted back to take the game with a powerful second half showing, and although recovering like that is exciting for the fans, Millward is sure to be working hard at trying to get his side to dominate the opposition from the first whistle rather than from half time onwards.
The Leigh side does continue to impress, with half back Jamie Ellis and Martyn Ridyard working a fine understanding together, while Mick Govin adds something different every time he takes the field.
The Centurions pack is going particularly strong, with James Taylor and Tommy Goulden always impressive alongside the ever threatening Chris Hill. David Mills is playing his best rugby for a long time and John Duffy is as evergreen as ever. Stuart Donlan, Stuart Littler and Dean McGilvray continue to show the benefit of their Super League experience.
But it is the young players coming through that must most please the Leigh clubs. Anthony Nicholson, Craig Briscoe, Andy Thornley, Jonathan Pownall and Sam Hopkins have all made big impacts from the bench when given their opportunities, and have complemented the experience of key strike players such as Mick Nanyn and Steve Maden and duel registered men, Tyrone McCarthy and Tom Armstrong.
The injuries to Steve Nash, Ricky Bibey and Robbie Hunter-Paul are obviously of concern, but clubs will always pick up injuries and as long as Leigh can keep winning, then a trophy may well be in the offing.
l Leigh Centurions have scheduled their first ever meeting with Catalan Dragons for Friday May 6, with an 8pm kick off.
The prize for the winners will be a place in Round 5 of the Carnegie Challenge Cup and Leigh will be particularly optimistic of taking the French Super League club’s scalp and then hoping for a money spinning home tie against one of the big clubs.
Tickets for the game went on sale last Monday, priced at £14 per adult and £7 concession (standing), or £16 per Adult and £8 concession (seating).
Leigh season tickets will not be valid for this game, but with the opportunity to pull off a cup giant-killing act, Leigh are hoping the fans will turn out in force for this historic clash. For more information, please call the Ticket Office on 01942 487888.
l Leigh are inviting children to get active in the Easter Holidays and attend Rugby Skills Days at the Leigh Sports Village on Wednesday and Thursday, April 13 and 14.
For only £4 per day (10am-3pm), children can enjoy taking part in the many skill drills and fun games that will be on offer. Every child that attends the Skills Day will receive a free junior ticket for the Leigh Centurions’ fixture against Barrow on Good Friday (April 22).