Rowley says Shield is just reward for Centurions

Leigh Centurions celebrate winning the Kingstone Press Championship Leaders Shield. Photo: Brian King

Leigh Centurions celebrate winning the Kingstone Press Championship Leaders Shield. Photo: Brian King

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LEIGH coach Paul Rowley said winning the Kingstone Press Championship Leaders Shield was just reward for the way his side had dominated the league this year.

On Friday, Centurions secured the top spot in the Championship by thrashing nearest rivals Featherstone Rovers 48-18 at the Sports Village. The result meant Leigh claimed top spot with three games to spare.

“I admit to feeling a bit nervous this week,” said Rowley. “There has been a great buzz around the town and everybody had been really looking forward to the game.

“It has been an easy week in terms of training. The focus has been clear and turning up tonight we received a great buzz from our fans. The players have got what they deserved as did the fans and the club. Derek Beaumont (head of rugby), the board and the fans have been a great support all year.”

Leigh have led the table from the first day of the season and only lost once - at Doncaster - last month. They also reached the quarter finals of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup, giving Super League side Leeds Rhinos a tremendous game before losing in the final minutes.

Tom Armstrong scored a hat-trick of tries against Featherstone while Martyn Ridyard kicked 10 goals from as many attempts in another superb display.

“I thought Martyn Ridyard was outstanding again,” said Rowley. “He became the first player to win the Kingstone Press Championship Player of the Week Award two weeks running and I think on that performance he will make it three.

“I also thought Sam Hopkins was immense but it’s not fair to pick out players because it’s all about the team this year and that goes for the boys who didn’t play but still turned up on Friday to support their team-mates.

“This year has provided us with some very happy memories and culminated in Friday’s celebrations. We deserve to get excited about it and get the town buzzing.”