Leigh Centurions continue the defence of the Northern Rail Cup this Sunday when they take on Batley Bulldogs in the quarter final at Leigh Sports Village.
They will be boosted by the return of Steve Nash and John Duffy. Both missed last week’s emphatic win over Sheffield Eagles, but the return of this duo give coach Paul Rowley a headache of the best possible kind.
“For once it is a problem who to leave out,” he says. “With the exception of James Taylor who seems set to be out for some time we have a fully fit squad and you can’t ask for more than that at this stage of the season.
“Batley will be another very stiff test for us but at lease we have the players available to try and do the job and keep on us on track for retaining the trophy we won so well last year.”
It’s the second meeting between the teams this season and Leigh owe their Yorkshire rivals after the Bulldogs won the opening League game at the LSV in March.
It will be a tough encounter and Rowley readily admits that his side expect a testing time.
“They’re a massive side with a huge pack,” said Rowley. “And they like to pile on the pressure and try to wear you down. They are talking about signing up a Super League second rower for the game but as yet we have not heard who.
“Leigh’s only doubt concerns second row man James Laithwaite who is reportedly being chased by Hull Kingston Rovers. But since Rovers have been winning games they have not yet required Laithwaite’s services.
“James is playing superbly for us and the longer it takes the better” added Rowley.
“I just hope they keep winning. But we have been boosted by Kevin Henderson’s signing. He felt his way into how we play against Avignon and they put in a very solid display against Sheffield. He will be a big asset to us.”
Rowley was pleased with the way his side did the job against Sheffield to move joint top of the Championship table but he is quick to point out that it was all down to a good first half performance and was an out and out team effort.
“We did a lot in the first half that actually laid the platform for our success in the second” he said.
“We put pressure on their playmakers and made them work hard defensively and that eventually told.
“In the second half we ensured we were more clinical about they way we finished. Our pack was solid up front, the backs worked well as a unit and our halves pulled it all together. If I had to single any player out it would probably be Bob Beswick who has really settled since joining the club and been in terrific form.
“But it’s all about improvement and Sunday will be a mark of how much we’ve improved since that first league clash.”
we played well in that game but we were not good enough to beat them. Now we will see if we have improved enough to go to the next stage. It’s a massive game for the club the players and the fans and we‘re greatly looking forward to the challenge.”