Leigh Centurions welcome Batley Bulldogs to the Leigh Sports Village this Sunday in the Kingstone Press Championship play-offs – determined to get their Grand Final plans back on track by booking a return ticket to Featherstone Rovers.
Last Sunday’s 40-26 defeat to the Championship League Leaders Shield winners, Featherstone means that Leigh must beat fifth placed Batley this Sunday to book a rematch in the Final Qualifying clash.
But that in itself is going to be a tough ask, as John Kear’s Batley arrive on the back of a massive victory over Workington and they beat Leigh 24-18 at Mount Pleasant four weeks ago to end Leigh’s own 11 match unbeaten run, and set the Centurions on their current three game losing streak.
This is the fourth meeting between the two sides this season with Leigh having won their home League fixture 20-0 and then seeing off Batley in the Northern Rail Cup semi final and Centurions coach Paul Rowley is well aware of how difficult Batley will be.
“They are a good side, well coached by a top bloke in John Kear,” he said. “It was neck and neck between us for that fourth spot for most of the season, and we just edged it.
“That is the plus, but the disappointment of last week was that Featherstone didn’t come up with anything that we didn’t expect, but we let them have a couple of really soft tries that ultimately proved our undoing.
“Having said that we played well, particularly in the second half when we completed 12 successive sets to keep the pressure on.
“But we are where we are and that is taking on Batley at the weekend. Hopefully we have come through unscathed apart from a few knocks and bruises.”
Leigh await Batley’s visit on the back of three successive defeats, but despite that Rowley is unconcerned.
Meanwhile Leigh have confirmed the signing of Featherstone Rovers’ robust forward Sam Barlow on a two year contract for 2014 and re-signed backrower Oliver Wilkes.