Leigh Centurions head to Keighley Cougars determined to continue their winning run.
Three successive victories have moved Leigh into sixth spot in the Kingstone press Championship, but since they have suffered only that opening day loss to Featherstone Rovers, the tightness of the battle for the top places is indicative of just how competitive this season is going to be.
The Cougars have linked up with former Centurions boss Ian Millward through a Partnership Agreement with Super League side Castleford Tigers and with players such as former St Helens and Bradford forward Jacob Emmitt, who enjoyed a spell at the Leigh Sports Village on loan, they will be a tough nut to crack.
“The Partnerships agreements and the dual registration of players has certainly strengthened those sides that have them this season,” confirmed Centurions boss Paul Rowley, “and that is ensuring that every game is even tougher than it has been in the past.
“I have been on record a good number of times about my own concerns with regard to these arrangements and don’t need to dwell on them again, but that fact will mean that the game at Keighley will be even harder than it usually is.
“They are a team that has yet to win a game, but they have three bonus points which in itself is indicative as to how competitive they have been. They went down 20-10 to Swinton at the weekend, but we have known all along how strong Swinton are, so that too demonstrates their capabilities, plus they have a Partnership agreement with Castleford Tigers and that is going to bring in some talented extra players for them.”
Never the less Rowley was pleased with his side’s performance against Doncaster and the fact that he now has virtually a fully fit squad to select from.
“No injuries picked up was good news,” he confirms. “We took Martyn Ridyard off because he had been ill all week and his energy levels were low, so once we felt we had the game going our way I was able to take him out of it. Having said that I knew that the introduction of Sean Penkywicz would add extra zest and it did just that.
“Overall I felt it was a good performance although a series of penalties and seven hand overs meant we had something like 66 tackles to make in that opening spell which was not good especially against a big set like Doncaster.
“There were impressive debuts too with Jon O’Donnell going very well and Ryan Duffy giving glimpses of his potential. He is very much a work in progress but he will get better and I am sure become a big firm favourite with the fans.
“Simon Finnigan is getting better with every game and all round I thought it was a great effort. Only Thomas Coyle with his broken thumb and Adam Higson who is in rehabilitation now are missing from our squad which gives me some good options looking ahead to Keighley.”