Rowley says Challenge Cup draw offers Championship clubs a great opportunity

Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley
Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley
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LEIGH coach Paul Rowley says many Kingstone Press Championship clubs will be fancying their chances of an extended run in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup after today’s fourth round draw.

Several Super League sides have been drawn to face each other and there are also a number of all Championship ties - including Rochdale vs Leigh.

“I think both sides will fancy their chances,” said Rowley.

“If you’re a Championship side you either want to draw a Super League club and get your money and get out or go on a Cup run.

“The draw will see several Championship clubs progressing and it certainly makes it very interesting.

“Rochdale are new to the Championship so will obviously take time to settle so we need to be fully focussed.”

The draw means Leigh will play Rochdale two weeks running - at the Sports Village in the Championship on March 30 then the cup tie at Spotland on March 6.

The teams have met on nine previous occasions in the competition with Leigh winning five times. The first meeting was a first round tie at the Athletic Grounds in 1904 which Leigh won 10-3 before a crowd of 7,000. Herbert Bennett scored both Leigh’s tries, both as a result of fine dribbles. The teams then met again in the semi-final at Wigan in 1921 when Leigh ran out 10-0 winners before a crowd of 25,000. Forwards Fred Coffey and Ernie Boardman scored Leigh’s tries as they reached the Cup Final for the first time.

Hornets gained revenge by knocking-out Leigh from the competition at the first round stage in successive years in 1927 and 1928, recording home victories by the margins of 8-2 (15,000) and 5-2 (4,000) respectively. The former game was decided by two Hornets tries in the last quarter, the latter by a first-half try.

Leigh beat Hornets 14-7 in a second round tie at Mather Lane in 1932 (10,500), future international Fred Harris scoring a match-deciding interception try late in the game. The teams did not meet again in the Cup until 1969 when Hornets won a first-round tie 13-4 at Hilton Park (5,500), centre Graham Starkey scoring a try and kicking five goals for Hornets.

In 1977 Leigh bowed out of the Cup at the first round stage, losing 23-8 at Hornets (3,012). Fullback John Maloney scored two tries and kicked four goals for Hornets that day.

The teams have met twice in the summer era in the Challenge Cup. Leigh won a fourth round tie 24-20 at Spotland in 2002 (2,710) with tries from Liam Bretherton, Willie Swann, Adam Bristow and Simon Svabic and four Neil Turley goals. Ryan Brierley grabbed four tries and Martyn Ridyard scored one try and kicked 10 goals in the Centurions’ 68-18 fourth round victory in 2012 at LSV (1,229).