LEIGH Centurions’ impressive unbeaten record goes under the microscope again this weekend when they travel to Halifax for Sunday’s Co-operative Championship fixture.
But with back-to-back crushing victories over Widnes Vikings, the Centurions will be in good spirits for the challenge that lies ahead.
“We have got to go there confident in our own ability to do well,” admitted Leigh coach Ian Millward. “We have just put 100 points in two matches past a side that is set for Super League and played some outstanding rugby along the way. If that doesn’t breed self-confidence then you are playing the wrong sport.
“But that doesn’t mean we will be underestimating Halifax. They are a side that are also through to the semi finals of the Northern Rail Cup and they are the champions and we all know that you disrespect a champion at your peril”
Halifax won their Northern Rail Cup quarter-final tie 36-26, but have generally been disappointing in the Championship. However they have the players to turn that around and Leigh are determined not to give them a helping hand.
Centurions didn’t pick up any more injuries in the Widnes win, but they did pick up a lot of bumps and bruises that hopefully having last weekend off, will help to heal. For Leigh it was the third successive week that they had nilled a side in the second half, and although Widnes had been two of those occasions, Barrow was the third.
“Our defence in the second half of the last three games has been magnificent,” said Millward. “But we have had first half lapses that we are working hard to try and put right. Ideally we don’t want to slip behind and then to have to fight back – I would prefer if we managed to get on top early and stay on top. But having said that the players have shown tremendous character to battle back as they have each week.”
The Centurions’ cause was helped last weekend by the signing of Lee Mitchell from Warrington as a dual-registered player, and Millward explained how the young forward was brought back to the club.
“Lee enjoyed his time here last year,” he said. “So when Tyrone McCarthy went to Wakefield I moved swiftly to have a chat with Tony Smith (Warrington coach) and asked about Lee playing for us when not required by Warrington.
“Lee was more than happy to resume the arrangement we had last year and really settled in and went well. This arrangement is certainly helping us by bringing their Super League experience to us, and as you can see with Jake Emmitt at Castleford and Matty Blythe at Warrington this season, the players benefit from playing in a good competition with us.”
Whether Mitchell is available for Halifax will depend on whether Warrington require him at the weekend. But Tom Armstrong continues to impress at centre, while the signing of Jamie Ellis is rapidly looking like one of the signings of the season, along with that of David Mills who is playing his best ever rugby with the Centurions.
Halifax though are next up, and they will be a severe test.
Leigh will discover their Northern Rail Cup semi final opponents on Thursday night on Sky TV.
Halifax, Dewsbury and Featherstone Rovers are through to the last four along with Leigh.
Leigh Centurions are offering a package which includes admittance into the VIP Lounge for four people; Leigh Centurions kit; a match day programme plus your child will lead the Centurions onto the field; and post match presentation of a signed Centurions ball – for £100!
To book a Match Day Mascot package, contact Annette on 01942 487890, or by e-mail – firstname.lastname@example.org