Jukes’ clean sweep aim

Dayne Weston celebrates as Leigh defeated Batley on Saturday. Photo:Paul McCarthy
Dayne Weston celebrates as Leigh defeated Batley on Saturday. Photo:Paul McCarthy

Leigh are determined to complete their amazing Super 8 qualifiers campaign with a win over Super League Champions Leeds Rhinos on Thursday.

Both teams have already secured their Super League status for 2017 but top spot and the additional prize money that goes with it should prove a considerable incentive in a game which is being televised live on Sky Sports.

Centurions top the Qualifiers group with one game remaining and are the only team in the group with a 100 per cent record after Leeds were beaten at Huddersfield on Sunday.

Neil Jukes rested several first choice players for Saturday’s win over Batley at the Sports Village as he plots a fourth win over top flight opposition following memorable successes against Salford, Huddersfield and Hull KR.

Half-backs Martyn Ridyard and Josh Drinkwater didn’t play along with Championship Player of the Year Micky Higham.

Full-back Gregg McNally and forwards Gareth Hock, Reni Maitua and Danny Tickle also sat out the game.

But all will be back for the game at Headingley which Leigh coach Jukes says his team are looking forward to. “It is going to be a real serious week in training,” said Jukes. “After the game against Batley the players were on water and orange juice – there’s no talk of celebrating yet.

“We have to go to Leeds with the best of attitudes because if you don’t you’ll get punished. I want to see how far this group can go in the competition and we’ll have a good week in training before going to Leeds.

“Even though we’re already up, prize money and places are up for grabs but we will have to come up with a big performance at Headingley.

“There’s no chance of us letting up because the players will give it everything – they are proud people.”

More than 10,500 people were at the Sports Village on Saturday as fans snapped up free tickets following a great gesture of generosity by Centurions owner Derek Beaumont.

Leigh hope that many of those fans will be back next year when Super League rugby returns to the town after a 12 year gap.

“It was an electric atmosphere and people enjoyed it,” said Jukes. “It’s going to be all about creating an atmosphere next season but Saturday was a perfect day with the John Woods statue being unveiled before the game.

“Maybe Derek (Beaumont) lost some money by offering free admission but from a marketing point of view let’s hope it pays off.”