Leigh 34 – 10 Sheffield

Leigh Centurions finished their regular Betfred Championship campaign by completing a league double over Sheffield Eagles at LSV.

Despite Kieron Purtill’s side achieving their 15th win in their last 17 Championship games results elsewhere left the Centurions in sixth place ahead of the split.

Halifax beat Rochdale Hornets and London Broncos won at Barrow to secure their top four places alongside Toronto and Toulouse, leaving Featherstone Rovers in fifth place despite their victory in Canada yesterday.

Leigh Centurions will now play seven more games in the Championship, maintaining their points tally with the fixtures set to be revealed by the RFL next Wednesday.

The top two clubs will contest the Championship Shield Final on the first weekend in October to bring down the curtain on the season. The bottom two clubs will be relegated. So effectively Featherstone and Leigh are competing for the right to earn home advantage in that final as they have an insurmountable gap over the rest.

Purtill gave debuts to Will Dagger and Jordan Walne who both joined the Club on loan from Hull KR until the end of the season during the past week alongside Josh Johnson. Dagger earned Heritage Number #1457 and Walne, playing alongside elder brother Adam in the pack earned #1458. Johnson was ruled out by a one-match suspension.

Micky Higham returned from injury and was reappointed Club Captain to replace the outgoing Harrison Hansen and with Liam Hood ruled out by injury Ben Reynolds was vice captain.

With seven changes in the 17 from the win over Swinton last week, the home side struggled for fluency in the first half and the Eagles took full advantage to take a 10-0 lead.

James Bentley crashed over on the left to break the deadlock and Corey Aston combined superbly with Ilies Macani to score a try converted by Oscar Thomas.

Ricky Bailey got Leigh on the score-sheet with just 50 seconds of the half remaining as he finished off a flowing move in the corner.

The second half was a different story, however, as the left-wing pairing of Matty Dawson-Jones and Ilias Bergal created havoc, scoring five tries between them.

Dawson-Jones scored two tries himself and turned creator to supply the assists for a Bergal hat-trick, each finished superbly by the flag.

With Dagger completing an impressive debut with a try the home side ran in 30 unopposed points to reward the loyal fans in another 3,000 plus gate.

Bergal scored his first in the corner after Dagger and Dawson-Jones combined and Dawson-Jones then leapt high above the Eagles defence to claim a towering Reynolds kick and get his side in front for the first time.

Bergal went over for his second after thrilling interplay with his centre partner and completed his hat-trick with 15 minutes remaining. After scoring four tries on dual registration at Workington Town last Sunday the French international has now scored seven tries in his last two games.

Dagger cut through from acting halfback before Dawson-Jones sealed Leigh’s dominant second half display by dummying over in fine style.

Leigh Centurions head coach Kieron Purtill said: “It’s been a bit of a traumatic week and the performance was a bit like the weather today. It was stormy and cloudy this morning and then a bit of sunshine in the afternoon. And that’s how our week’s been. At the start of the week not very good and the sun came through a little bit and we managed to get a squad and a team together.

“Once we started to settle down and the bit of nerves went away we showed what this group is capable of. There’s a lot of rugby left in us and I’m really proud of that performance today.

“The first half we coughed a lot of ball up. We have some new guys in there and some people in different positions they’ve not played all year and some different combinations. Once we got settled after half-time we were outstanding.

“It’s been a tough week. We’ve worked hard as a group for a number of weeks and to see that group taken away was very sad. I’ve got some good friends who’ve left and some good players who’ve given a lot for this club.

“As a club we are a strong club and we have a fantastic fan base. They were absolutely outstanding today and the reception at the end was first-class and brought a tear to my eye.

“This club has strong foundations and it’s been to bad places before and come back better and stronger and I’m sure we will again.

“That performance was for the fans and everyone who has stuck by us.

“We have a new group and today we put a stamp down as to how we play. At the end of the day we are in a competition to win a trophy and that’s what we want to do. Obviously we are disappointed with where we finished and we have some tough games coming up.

“But at the end of the year we want to lift a trophy for those fans, who’ve been outstanding again today.”

Leigh Centurions: Will Dagger; Ricky Bailey, Jack Owens, Matty Dawson-Jones, Ilias Bergal; Ben Reynolds, Drew Hutchison; Adam Walne, Micky Higham (captain), Ryan Bailey, Kevin Larroyer, Nick Gregson, Jordan Walne.

Interchange: Daniel Mortimer, Nathan Mason, Greg Richards, Jack Blagbrough.

Tries: Ricky Bailey (40), Bergal (49, 59, 65), Dawson-Jones (52, 75), Dagger (70)
Goals: Reynolds 0/ 1, Owens 3/ 6.

Sheffield Eagles: Oscar Thomas; Ilies Macani, Menzie Yere, Joshua Toole, Ben Blackmore; Cory Aston, Corey Makelim; Mark Offerdahl, Matty Fozard, Shaun Pick, James Bentley, Michael Weldon, Matt James.

Greg Burns, Max Garcia, Oliver Davies, Jon Magrin.

Tries: Bentley (18), Aston (33)
Goals: Thomas 1/ 2.

Referee: Chris Kendall;
Half-time: 4-10;
Attendance: 3,112.
Penalty count: 8-8.

Main Match Sponsor: Caton Lloyd Audio Visual Solutions;
Associate Sponsor: CAL Sameday
Match Ball Sponsors: JAS Environmental Service and Zaun Group.
Leigh Centurions Man of the Match: Matty Dawson-Jones.

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