Match Preview: Workington Town vs Leigh Centurions

Facing their fifth game in a row on the spin, Leigh will travel to Cumbria on Sunday for their latest match of the season. Whitehaven welcome the Centurions to the AEL Arena, as the two teams face off in the 20th round of the Betfred Championship. The match will take place on Sunday 24th July, kicking off at 15:00pm.

The hosts have struggled this year, with wins coming few and far between. Haven currently find themselves without a win in five games and have only picked up three points in their last 11 outings. However, their only win in 11, coming against Dewsbury Rams, sees Whitehaven sit five points clear of the relegation places in the league with eight rounds to go.

The visitors travel north in high spirits. In their last four matches on the road, the Centurions have scored 240 points and conceded juts 16 points. Their latest win against Dewsbury Rams saw Leigh stretch their winning run to 15 matches and also secured the clubs place in the Betfred Championship Play-Offs at the end of the season.

LAST TIME OUT:

This is the second time these two sides have met this year, with the reverse fixture at Leigh Sports Village coming on the opening round of the season. A new look Centurions side started the Adrian Lam era at the club with a convincing 50-4 victory – including a hattrick on debut for Nene Macdonald.

Macdonald became one of only five Leigh players of the summer era to score a hattrick on debut for the club. Stuart Donlan (HN#1117) in 1997, Miles Greenwood (HN#1273), Nathan McAvoy (1293) in 2008 and Jamie Durbin (HN#1315) in 2009 the others to achieve the feat.

Highlights of that game can be watched below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tGI16WoFC4I

COACHES QUOTES:

Adrian Lam spoke to us earlier this week and has expressed his delight at the level at which his squad are training at currently.

We’ve got really good at turning each week around and getting straight back into training, preparing for our next game. We’re training really professionally and at a high intensity. 

“There’s a good buzz around the squad on the training pitch – I know as a coach, that when the boys have that feeling, they’re focused on the task at hand.”

With the end of the season beginning to come into view, despite being happy with where his side is at present, he is always looking for new ways to improve his squad week in week out.

This season is coming to an end really quickly – I think there’s only eight games to go. Those games are going to come really quick, and we don’t have much time left together as a group.

“We’re always trying to find a way to improve ourselves as a collective. The game this week, another tough test away from home, poses a real challenge for us to make sure we tick all the boxes leading up to our huge game next weekend at the Summer Bash.

“But we’ve said all year, we’re not ones to look too far ahead and we’ve got a tough game to get through this week before we even think about that. We’ve got a really strong team travelling to Cumbria, so I’m excited to see how the boys handle the challenge. 

SQUAD UPDATE:

Chris Green’s injury nightmare has an end in sight. The prop has been included in the 21-man squad set to travel to Cumbria this weekend – the first time he has been included since Round 2 of the Betfred Championship in February.

After being rested for last week’s game at Dewsbury Rams, the trio of Blake Ferguson, John Asiata and Adam Sidlow could all be recalled to the team. However, prop Tom Amone will be missing the match this weekend after coming off with a knee injury last weekend. This one is not feared to be too serious and should see the stellar forward return to the squad in the next week or two.

New signing, Lachlan Lam, will not feature in this week’s squad. The Papua New Guinea international utility back is yet to arrive in the UK but could be in line to feature in next week’s blockbuster showdown with Featherstone Rovers at the Summer Bash.

Backs Jy Hitchcox, Kieron Dixon, Luis Roberts and Ata Hingano all remain on loan away from the club, playing for their respective loan sides in the latest round of fixtures.

MILESTONES:

Blake Ferguson is just four tries away from his 150th club try of his career. The former NSW and Australia international has touched down 149 times so far in his career – 138 of those coming in the NRL with spells at Cronulla Sharks, Canberra Raiders, South Sydney Roosters and Parramatta Eels. Ferguson has 11 tries so far for the Centurions in his eight appearances this season.

In what is turning into a season of personal milestones, Ben Reynolds is closing in on yet another personal accolade. Fresh off the back of his 1000th career point last weekend, the half back currently sits 7th on the list of the Centurions’ all-time top scorer list – just 6 points behind Ryan Brierley (HN#1354).

REFEREE:

The man leading the officiating team for this one will be referee, Mike Smaill. Smaill’s last game in charge of a Centurions fixture came in April 2022, as Leigh defeated Dewsbury Rams 44-0 at Leigh Sports Village.

COMMUNITY: Centurions Squad Visit Homeless Support Project

Members of the first team squad headed to Homeless Support Project to deliver the kind donations made by the local community and the club. Whilst down there speaking to all of the various staff, they were also given a tour of the facilities.

They were joined by local Labour councillors and HSP trustees, Shelley Guest and Samantha Brown, who met the squad and told them about all of the great work HSP does for the homeless community.

 

Paul Bibby, Founder and CEO of Homeless Support Project, spoke about how much he values the Centurions coming down.

“Leigh has had its highs and lows. People have come and gone, and whole industries have come and gone, but one constant that has always been there is rugby. Whether at Mather Lane, Hilton Park or LSV, Leigh Centurions are so identified with what it means to be a Leyther. It’s great they have taken such an interest in HSP Leigh,” Bibby said.

“Just like everyone at Leigh Centurions, HSP is there for Leigh and always will be. Whoever needs our help, whether it’s a hot meal, help with support and social services or even just someone to talk to, we are there. HSP provides free meals, support and advice to anyone in need, no prejudice to anyone calling into us, no reasons needed to use us, and everyone is welcomed by our amazing team.

“Our charity shop is the only one in Leigh with a food market to help people in the community access cheap food, against the rising cost of living.

“We are so happy that Leigh Centurions have stepped in to help us, and we cannot thank the staff and players enough for their great work in supporting us. We are a small charity that does big work in Leigh and we are hoping with the help of everyone at Leigh Centurions, we can raise our profile in the local community.

The reason why we do what we do is that we love Leigh and that includes our friends at Leigh Centurions.”

Homeless Support Project are always looking for volunteers and donations to aid in the work they do to help vulnerable people and the homeless. Below are the contact details for the charity if anyone would like to make a donation or find out more information.

Papua New Guinea International Halfback Lachlan Lam Signs For Leigh Centurions

Leigh Centurions are delighted to confirm the signing of Sydney Roosters and Papua New Guinea international halfback Lachlan Lam on a contract until the end of the 2023 season.

The son of head coach Adrian Lam, he is expected to join up with the squad in the next few days.

Head of Rugby Chris Chester described himself as “over the moon” with the club’s latest high-quality signing and revealed that it was a team effort to get the deal over the line.

“It is a fantastic signing for the club,” Chester said. “It’s another signing that shows our intent. We are recruiting top quality NRL players, and they are coming over here to make a difference.

“Lachlan will make a big difference to our squad for the rest of the year and for 2023. He fits perfectly into our recruitment policy, and we can build a club around players like Lachlan.”

Mr Chester again paid tribute to the continued investment of club owner Derek Beaumont.

“But for the support of Derek financially, signings like this would be impossible,” he said. “It is fantastic for the town and the game that Derek is willing to back the club in the way that he does.

“It is amazing the support he has given the club over the years, and we look forward to rewarding him and his family for his ongoing commitment.”

Lam was born in Sydney but lived much of his early life in Wigan when his father was playing for the Warriors, moving back home aged eight. “I remember him as a young child when I played at Wigan with Adrian all those years ago,” Mr Chester said. “It’s a great story that he’s over here again.”

Speaking from Sydney, Lachlan Lam said: “I’m excited to be joining Leigh Centurions. I’ve seen the success of the team this year and coming over to link up with dad will be something we’ve not done for a real long time. I’m really excited to be doing that.

“We had some special memories when we were younger and I’m looking forward to doing that now. I can’t wait to get over and meet everybody, and help the club achieve its goals.”

He came up through the Sydney Roosters junior teams, representing the Australian Schoolboys in 2016 and playing junior State of Origin.

He became the first player to represent his state under the father-son rule when he played for Queensland Under-16s. His father had played State of Origin for Queensland.

Having followed in the footsteps of his father, who played 146 first grade games for the Roosters, his only NRL club, it was a special family moment when Lachlan made his first-grade debut for the Roosters in Round 2 of the 2019 NRL season against Manly.

Photo Credit: NRL Photos

Lachlan was a former ball boy at the Roosters and there’s a famous photo of him in his father’s arms after Adrian played his final game for the club in 2000 before coming over to the UK.

In 2021 Lam was a regular in the Roosters’ first grade side, often playing alongside former Centurions’ halfback Drew Hutchison, who was an ever-present in his only season with the club in 2018.

“As well as Derek’s financial support, without Lachlan’s dad this deal would have been nigh on impossible,” Mr Chester continued. “His dad, his family back home and his agent Sam Ayoub have played a big part in his decision. Lachlan has been 18th man for the last 12/13 weeks for the Roosters, waiting patiently for his chance and playing well in the reserves.

“Lachlan brings good competition to our squad. We already have good halfbacks in Ben Reynolds and Joe Mellor, who are both contracted for next season, and as well as halfback he can play in other positions.

“I’m over the moon that we have secured a player of his calibre.”

Lam also followed his father in becoming a Papua New Guinea international, marking his debut in the 2017 World Cup with two first-half tries in a 64-0 win over USA at Port Moresby, when his new Centurions’ teammate Nene Macdonald was also on the scoresheet.

Photo Credit: Canberra Times

He recently starred in PNG’s 24-14 victory over Fiji at Campbelltown Stadium, scoring two tries and creating another for David Mead on what was his captain’s international farewell, after one of his seven tackle breaks.

Lachlan Lam will be sponsored by Elvis Eckardt Recruitment & Sales Solutions Ltd.

REF WATCH: Mike Smaill to oversee this weekend’s Whitehaven Betfred Championship clash

Referee Mike Smaill will be leading the officiating team for Leigh Centurions’ Betfred Championship Round 20 away meeting with Whitehaven this Sunday, 3pm kick-off.

Smaill was last in charge of a Leigh fixture in April 2022, against Dewsbury Rams, as the Centurions ran out 44-0 winners at Leigh Sports Village

The full officials list for Sunday’s game is as follows:

Referee – Mike Smaill

Touch Judges – Alan Billington and Ryan Cox

Reserve Referee – Brad Milligan

Timekeeper – Keith Leyland

Leigh LDSL Head Coach Scott Burns Wins Sporting Chance Award!

It was a fantastic evening at the National Learning Disabilities & Autism Awards for Leigh Centurions LDRL/PDRL Head Coach Scott Burns, who won the Sporting Chance Award on the night.

When asked about winning the award, Scott could not hide his immense pride at being recognised on the national stage.

Burns said: “These awards highlight the very best in the country in their respective fields, and to be up against some very strong candidates such as Community Integrated Care, the RLWC campaign amongst others is an amazing feeling, and to be judged the winner is very special.

“I am extremely happy, truly honoured to be recognised nationally.”

The Sporting Chance Award looks for a person or team who has worked creatively to develop sporting activities in which people with learning disabilities and/or autism can choose to participate and enjoy.

Burns’ work with Leigh’s Learning Disability Super League is a prime example of this and he was quick to praise them and have far they have come, as well as the entire town for getting behind them at their showcase games at two Betfred Championship games at Widnes Vikings and most recently, the Centurions Monday night fixture against Featherstone Rovers.

“The two showcase games and the LD Super League festivals have given us a great chance to show the hard work, fun, and enjoyment the squad has put into training.

“The team has gone from strength to strength and the whole town has got behind them, as we could see, and hear at the LSV when we played Salford Red Devils LDRL in front of our home crowd!

“Our PDRL squad will start recruiting later this year, so that will be another fantastic opportunity for our community to pull on a Centurions shirt and represent their club and town!”

When asked about who he’d like to dedicate his award to, Burns was ever so thankful to all involved with Leigh for such a warm welcome since joining at the end of 2021.

“The club, the fans, the community trust, my players, coaches, and the parents and carers of our LDRL superstars. Thank you all for welcoming me to the club and town and most of all for putting their trust in me to help and guide my players, their loved ones, into becoming the true rugby league superstars that they are!”

If you would like any further information about our disability rugby league teams, please email Hannah Forbes at hannah@leighcommunitytrust.co.uk.

MATCH REPORT: Dewsbury Rams 6-60 Leigh Centurions 17.07.22

In the midst of a summer heat wave at Tetley’s Stadium, Leigh Centurions ran out comfortable winners in a 6-60 away victory over Dewsbury Rams that saw Ben Reynolds score his 1000th career point.

First Half

It was the home side who got the first score of the afternoon, as Reece Butterworth span over the line on the fifth tackle to open things up at a scorching hot Tetley’s Stadium. Paul Sykes stepped up to make the conversion.

However, it didn’t take long for Leigh to find their stride, as minutes later Krisnan Inu forced his way over the line down the left flank. The same man was on kicking duties and converted with ease at the first time of asking. (1/1)

The travelling support from the away side made their voices known as Leigh took the lead at the quarter-hour mark through Kai O’Donnell, who broke through a tackle under the sticks to get the ball down. Inu converted. (2/2)

Midway into the first period, Caleb Aekins got in on the act, as he latched onto a grubber by Nene Macdonald to storm over the try line. He left Inu an easy kick which he converted. (3/3)

An injury to Tom Amone forced the prop off the field shortly after through injury.

Leigh extended their lead as Sam Stone worked through a small gap in the Dewsbury defensive line to slam the ball down. Inu kept racking up the points making another conversion. (4/4)

Wigan Warriors loanee James McDonnell entered the fray in place of Amone and immediately made his impact as he ran through two defenders to touch the ball down. Inu stepped up and made the conversion yet again. (5/5)

Less than ten minutes remained before the break and the Centurions weren’t done adding to their lead, as Nene Macdonald showed nifty footwork to shake off a defender and get the ball down. Inu couldn’t stay perfect with his kicking, as his conversion attempt cannoned off the upright. (5/6)

Ollie Greensmith was then sent to the sin bin by referee Tom Grant for persistent fouling before the break.

Half Time – Dewsbury Rams 6-34 Leigh Centurions

Second Half

Just four minutes had gone after the restart as new signing Josh Charnley exploited the open space down the right side of the pitch to sprint through and open Leigh’s second-half scoring tally. Krisnan Inu was receiving treatment at the time, so Ben Reynolds stepped up temporarily to take the kick but unfortunately missed. (0/1)

It nearly was a second try of the afternoon for Leigh as Aekins thought he’d doubled his tally, but the referee disagreed and waved it off.

Reynolds soon after tried to send a grubber forward for Aekins to latch onto, but the bounce didn’t fall kindly to the full-back. However, the resultant bounce fell back to Reynolds again, who offloaded for Joe Mellor to score beside the posts. Reynolds took the kick again and made the conversion. (1/2)

A bit of confusion followed in the next set, with Joe Mellor kicking the ball away from the Dewsbury Rams feet, allowing Reynolds to dive in and get the ball down for another try. This particular one saw him score his 1000th career point.

It was the Ben Reynolds show temporarily, as he scored yet another try under the sticks to further increase Leigh’s dominant lead.

As the game began to reach the end, Papua New Guinea hooker Edwin Ipape got his name on the scoresheet as he burst through after a Paul Sykes misplaced pass and smashed the ball down over the try line in front of the high number of Centurions fans’ in attendance.

Full-Time: Dewsbury Rams 6-60 Leigh Centurions

Leigh Centurions: Aekins, Inu, Macdonald, Chamberlain, Charnley, Reynolds, Mellor (C), Nakubuwai, Ipape, Amone, Stone, Wardle, O’Donnell.

Interchange: Bell, Smith, Ioane, McDonnell.

Tries: Inu, O’Donnell, Aekins, Stone, McDonnell, Macdonald, Charnley, Mellor, Reynolds (2), Ipape.

Goals: Inu (5), Reynolds (3).

Sin Bin: None

Dewsbury Rams: Sweeting, Carr, Greensmith, Graham, Blackmore, Sykes, Gill, Blagbrough, Butterworth, Kirby, Tomlinson, Knowles, Mathiou.

Interchange: Kidd, Morris, Beckett, Walker.

Tries: Butterworth

Goals: Sykes

Sin Bin: Greensmith.

Attendance: 1149