Leigh out to end play-off hoodoo

You have to go back to 2004 for Leigh's last play-off win
You have to go back to 2004 for Leigh's last play-off win
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A look ahead to this weekend’s action in the Kingstone Press Championship play-offs including Leigh Centurions v Doncaster at the Sports Village on Sunday.

Leigh Centurions v Doncaster (Sunday, 3.00pm)

Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley has a fully-fit squad as he looks to end a 10-year stretch since the club’s last play-off victory.

Rowley said: “We want to break a 10-year duck in which we’ve not won a single play-off game.

“The last play-off game we won was the 2004 Grand Final against Whitehaven – and that was so long ago that I played in it.

“But the current group here are new and fresh, and they don’t take much notice of that run. We’re carefree and daring.”

On Doncaster, Rowley added: “They’re a good team, there’s no question about that. They’ve been consistently good all year.”

Doncaster coach Paul Cooke is without Mike Kelly (ankle), Steve Snitch and Lee Waterman for the rest of the season, while Shaun Leaf (concussion) is ruled out of Sunday’s qualifying play-off.

Liam Colbon is the only dual-registered player likely to be available for Doncaster.

Cooke said: “We’re down to the bare bones, but that’s not a problem.

“We’ve given ourselves two bites of the cherry (by finishing fourth), and if we win this week then we get a week off.

“It’s all about the mindset the players want to take. I know which one I’m taking, and the rest of the guys can either follow me, or it could turn embarrassing because Leigh have been the Championship’s best team all year.”

Sheffield Eagles v Batley Bulldogs (Saturday, 3.00pm)

Sheffield Eagles coach Mark Aston is hoping for more success against his former boss John Kear.

Aston, Lance Todd Trophy winner with the Eagles in 1998 while Kear was coach, secured a 19-12 win against Batley in last year’s Kingstone Press Championship Grand Final.

Now he is looking to end Batley’s season in 2014, this time in the first week of the Kingstone Press Championship play-offs.

But Aston is demanding a major improvement from his team. He said: “I’m still looking for that perfect performance.”

Bulldogs coach Kear has urged his players to “roll up their sleeves” ahead of the start of Saturday’s elimination play-off.

Bulldogs were 34-10 winners at Doncaster last week, securing an eighth-placed finish in the process.

Kear said: “The players have had some tough times and copped some criticism, but they’ve stayed strong. Now we may as well roll our sleeves up and have a look at the play-offs.”

He added: “If we maintain that form, we’ll give ourselves a little bit of a chance of a run”

Prop Byron Smith has an outside chance of being fit enough to return following a recent thigh injury.

Dewsbury Rams v Workington Town (Sunday, 3.00pm)

Tommy Gallagher, Rob Spicer, Karl Pryce and Anthony Thackeray all look set to return for Dewsbury Rams in Sunday’s Kingstone Press Championship elimination play-off with Workington Town.

Rams coach Glenn Morrison said: “We’ve got four or five players coming back, which should give us a real boost.”

He added: “Getting to the play-offs is only half the job; it all starts again now, and everyone’s in the same position.

“If you don’t turn up and play, your season’s over – and we’re focused on trying to go as far as we can.

“Workington will get some confidence out of last week’s win against us, and they’re a good team.

“Phil Veivers has got them playing some good footy, but every game is going to be tough at this stage of the year.”

Workington travel without Brett Carter (medial ligaments) and Dan Rooney (broken jaw).

But coach Phil Veivers remains in confident mood, buoyed by last week’s 23-4 win against Dewsbury. He said: “We don’t fear anyone.”

Featherstone Rovers v Halifax (Sunday, 3.00pm)

Featherstone Rovers coach Andy Hay insists the “pressure is off” after his side secured a second-placed finish in the Kingstone Press Championship.

Hay said: “There’s been a lot of pressure on us over the last five or six weeks, and now that’s out of the way we can hopefully start playing again.

“We’ve two chances in the play-offs, but we don’t want to take them. We’ll try to get this game out of the way and hopefully get a week’s rest.”

Jamie Cording is closing in on a return, but Sunday’s match may come too early.

Hay added: “We’re down to the barebones and we need to get the best out of the players we’ve got.

“Now the pressure’s off again, we can look forward to playing some football.”

Halifax player-coach Scott Murrell is aiming for a second win, and could be boosted by the return of Ross Divorty.

Murrell said: “We need to get a strong mentality when we’re defending, and complete our sets at the other end. If we sort those things out, I’m sure we’ll be all right.”