Leigh Centurions welcome Hunslet Hawks to the Leigh Sports Village, where they will be looking to ensure they don’t get bitten for a second successive week.
Last week it was the Sheffield Eagles getting the drop on the Centurions, with a last gasp 23-22 victory, and Leigh coach Paul Rowley is determined that there will be no flocking together of the birds of a feather.
“We anticipate a game every bit as tough as the one at Sheffield,” he said. “Hunslet have recorded a comprehensive win over Whitehaven, and last week saw off Swinton, and that is no mean feat, as we fully appreciate the quality of that side.
“They also played at the LSV, so there will be no feeling of unfamiliarity either. They have a big prop in Carl Dooler, who has given us problems before, and one of the March brothers who is always a handful in a very robust and capable side. We will have a lot of work to do.”
Leigh should have play-maker John Duffy back in the side after having to pull out before the game through illness last week, but they have doubts over Tommy Goulden and Greg McNally, both of whom suffered injuries against the Eagles, that eventually had some bearing on the result.
“We wait to see how they are,” Rowley said. “And there are at least half a dozen with knocks that will require considerable treatment to get them fit for Sunday. But that is the nature of the sport, and we will be no worse off than other clubs at this stage.
“Unfortunately, the injuries to Greg and Tommy did mean we were a little light on the subs options last week, and it did prevent us getting fresher bodies in during the last 10 minutes, when Sheffield really turned the screw.
“But it was a cracking game, and although we lost we can take a lot of positives from our performance. To get to 22-0 was a tremendous effort against a side we knew would keep coming at us, no matter what the score.
“But it was disappointing to lose as we did. I thought we deserved at least a draw, but they put on a big play on the last, and it gave them victory.
“Losing Duffy was a blow before kick-off and it meant Bob Beswick had to play again, when not fully fit, but it didn’t seem to be of concern until that last quarter. We will learn lessons from this and we will tighten up on our execution and discipline.
“We gave too many penalties away, and a lot of them were on the fifth tackle, which puts pressure on your defence.”
Leigh did give a debut to dual-registered Tom Spencer, and Rowley was impressed. “Tom went really well and looked sharp and fit,” he said. “And we will be happy to play him as long as we can without Wigan needing him. With regard to other dual registered players, we are still in discussion with Wigan and other clubs.”
Leigh’s game against Gateshead a week on Sunday will be played at Kingston Park, Newcastle, the home of the Newcastle Falcons, on March 4.
Elsewhere, the entire rugby community of Leigh was shocked to hear of the tragic death of Robbie Millward, son of the popular former Leigh coach Ian, and condolences go to Ian, Robbie’s mother Leanne and the rest of the family. See page 11.