Leigh Centurions v Sheffield Eagles
Sunday 29th July 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 23
Stats over last 8 encounters
Sheffield Eagles end their regular Betfred Championship campaign against Leigh Centurions at the Leigh Sports Village tomorrow.
The Eagles come into the contest following two successive wins at the Olympic Legacy Park, helping them move six points clear of the relegation zone.
Mark Aston’s side have hit a purple patch at the right time and they will be hoping to run Leigh close at the weekend, after a turbulent week for the full-timers.
The Centurions’ victory over Swinton Lions last weekend meant very little as results elsewhere saw the Centurions stay outside of the top four.
This led to a fire sale of players during the week, with the likes of Craig Hall, Ben Crooks, Peter Mata’utia, Bodene Thompson and Jordan Thompson exiting.
The Centurions picked up three players from Hull KR in exchange for Hall and Crooks as Josh Johnson, Jordan Walne and Will Dagger arrived at the LSV from KCOM Craven Park.
If Leigh end up victorious on Sunday, they will need losses for Featherstone (away at Toronto), and one of Toulouse, London and Halifax if they are to make it to the Qualifiers.
Will the Eagles be able to confirm Leigh’s place in the Championship Shield once and for all, with a big win in the Centurions’ back yard?
Last Time Out
Sheffield beat Barrow Raiders 28-10 as the South Yorkshire side completed back-to-back wins at the Olympic Legacy Park for the first time.
The Eagles struck first when Matt James barged over on ten minutes. Cory Aston, who went on to have a big say in the match, converted.
Ben Blackmore extended Sheffield’s advantage with a smart finish in the corner after great work from Matty Costello and Joshua Toole. Aston was off target from the tee.
Three minutes before the break, Barrow got their first try of the afternoon through Brett Carter. Jamie Dallimore couldn’t convert and the Eagles held a six-point lead at the interval.
Within the first minute of the restart, the hosts had already crossed the whitewash as Aston stripped possession one-on-one and had a clear run to the line. He converted.
Nathan Mossop kept Barrow’s hopes alive with a four-pointer as the final quarter loomed. Dallimore goaled.
But the Eagles had plenty in the tank on a boiling day, with Aston and Menzie Yere sealing the victory thanks to a try each.
Leigh conquered Swinton 50-24 at the Leigh Sports Village in what would turn out to be the final game in a Centurions jersey for four of their seven try-scorers.
The hosts led 34-6 at the break courtesy of a Matty Dawson-Jones brace as well as tries for Harrison Hansen, Bodene Thompson, Craig Hall and Liam Hood.
Josh Barlow got Swinton’s lone score of the first period.
After the break, Hall, Peter Mata’utia and Drew Hutchison all got on the scoresheet while Swinton added tries through Rob Fairclough, Rhodri Lloyd and Kyle Shelford.
Despite Leigh’s outgoings during the week, their 19-man squad is still very strong as you would expect from a full-time club.
One of their main threats comes from dummy-half with the likes of Liam Hood and Micky Higham capable of tearing teams apart and controlling the game from the ruck.
Both have Super League experience under their belt, especially Higham who has spent the majority of his career in the top tier, and it will be a tough test for the Eagles to keep the pair quiet.
Going up against Hood and Higham will be Eagles vice-captain Matty Fozard and hometown boy Greg Burns.
Since signing in 2016, Fozard has been immense for Sheffield and has rightly become a favourite with the Eagles supporters.
Having covered at loose forward and in the halves during his spell with the Eagles, his utility value has certainly been used to the team’s advantage when injuries have occurred.
Burns has made 17 appearances for the Eagles this season, with nine of those coming off the bench.
It has been a family affair for Greg this season as his brother, Paddy, has also been in and around the first team.
With both Burns and Fozard just 23-years-old, the duo have had great experience in the Championship over recent years and tough tests like the one they will receive this Sunday can only mean more progress.
Centurions: Dawson-Jones, Reynolds, Hutchison, Mortimer, Larroyer, Hood, Mason, Owens, Richards, Gregson, Ricky Bailey, Cunningham, Blagbrough, Bergal, Ryan Bailey, Higham, Jordan Walne, Dagger, Adam Walne
Eagles: Aston, Bentley, Blackmore, Greg Burns, Paddy Burns, Costello, Davies, Fozard, James, Macani, Magrin, Makelim, Offerdahl, Pick, Swift, Thomas, Toole, Weldon, Yere
By Dan Fowler