Rowley happy with Centurions’ progress

Leigh's Oliver Wilkes is sandwiched by Salford defenders
Leigh's Oliver Wilkes is sandwiched by Salford defenders
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Leigh Centurions continue their 2014 preparation for the Kingstone press Championship with a game against a third Super League side this Sunday when Grand Finalists Warrington Wolves are the visitors to the LSV.

It’s yet another stern test for the Leigh lads coming on the back of games against Wigan Warriors and a very strong Salford Red Devils.

But Centurions coach Paul Rowley is intent on keeping the pressure on his squad, even rearranging last Sunday’s postponed game against North Wales Crusaders for Wednesday night.

“All this game time against quality opposition is going to pay dividends when we get to the season proper” Rowley explained. “Against Salford I thought there were so many positives against a very strong side but it also highlighted areas in which we need to improve. Conditions were atrocious but it gave the opportunity for youngster Lewis Foster to come on at hooker and make his debut, and he did exceptionally well, especially when you consider he was deputising for our talisman, Bob Beswick.

“It also gave us our first opportunity to have a view of Jamie Acton in a Leigh shirt and he went well as did all our middle and the lads who came off the bench.

“The game against the Crusaders on Sunday was all set to give a whole set of other players more game time, players such as Martin Aspinwall, Joe Bullock and Anthony Bate and when it was postponed it was really disappointing. But both us and the Crusaders wanted that game to go ahead and that was why we quickly rearranged it at Leigh East.

“We are on a big build up curve to try and be ready to hit the ground running when we play Batley in our opening Championship fixture and with the games we have played so far, you can see the improvements within the team as the cobwebs get dusted down.

“This week we have a very strong Warrington side as our visitors and I know that Tony Smith is keen to give as many of his first team as possible a big hit out as they prepare for their new season.

“They have a side that will be without Lee Briers, Brett Hodgson, Adrian Morley and Gareth Carvell from last season, so they will want to try and settle down with a good performance against us. “

No doubt Warrington will have noticed the extremely competitive nature of Leigh firstly against Wigan but then even more so against the Salford side that included Morley among their array of new signings, all of whom impressed at the same time as being pushed all the way by the Centurions.

“We targeted areas we wanted to improve and we were at least 25% better than against Wigan , with obvious room to improve.

“But I don’t want to get carried away. We still lost and that is still a huge disappointment. We want to be winning these and any other games we play. But I can see something exciting is building here and I hope the Leigh public see it too. But I will always be edgy until I see the finished article.

“We will assess who needs more game time for the match against Warrington and select our side from there with the real test of our progress being the friendly we have at Halifax the week before the season kicks off proper. But it is the Championship that this is all aimed at, and so far I am encouraged with the way we are progressing.”