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Betfred Championship R16: Sheffield vs Leigh Preview

23/06/2022

Sheffield Eagles play host to Leigh Centurions at the Olympic Legacy Park tomorrow evening as Mark Aston’s men look to turn the tables on the current league leaders.

The Eagles have lost their last two home games, against Bradford Bulls and York City Knights, and will go into this one as underdogs against a Leigh club that has spent heavily but come up with the goods as of late.

Leigh have got the better of promotion-seeking rivals Featherstone Rovers on the last two occasions, including the final game before the international break on June 13th as the Centurions conquered 32-12.

On a dry track like the OLP, the conditions will suit both sides who like to move the ball to the flanks as often as they can.

Last Time Out

Sheffield’s playoff aspirations took a hit when Bradford visited the OLP and returned to West Yorkshire with a 10-30 victory.

The Bulls led 10-16 at the break, with their tries coming from David Foggin-Johnston, Corey Johnson and Brandon Pickersgill. The Eagles’ efforts came courtesy of Kris Welham and Anthony Thackeray.

Two tries without reply in the second half for Bradford sealed victory for Mark Dunning’s men. Ryan Millar, on his return to South Yorkshire, notched a brace following a Declan Patton penalty goal.

Leigh went to the top of the Betfred Championship table with a win over Featherstone.

Krisnan Inu and John Asiata got the hosts off to a great start as they went into a 10-0 lead.

Mark Kheirallah responded for Featherstone but Leigh soon extended their advantage as Blake Ferguson touched down before two Inu penalties gave the Centurions an 18-6 half-time lead.

Connor Jones cut the visitors’ deficit with the first try of the second period, followed by a Kheirallah conversion. However, that would prove to be their final scoring act as Leigh claimed a vital win.

Ferguson and Edwin Ipape both touched down, either side of an Inn penalty, before chaos set in with a number of cards brandished.

Matty Wildie received a yellow before Ink and Rovers prop Sam Eseh saw red. Ben Reynolds’ penalty goal, in the absence of Inu, added further gloss to the final scoreline.

Key Battle - Adam Sidlow | Brandon Douglas

One of Leigh’s biggest strengths is their forward pack and despite their full-time professional status, Sheffield stood up to the task in the 1895 Cup semi-final earlier in the year.

Brandon Douglas has been a standout for the Eagles in their pack, since his off-season move from Doncaster on a two-year deal.

Never seen taking a backward step and not afraid to shoot the line to make a big tackle, every pack needs a Douglas-esque figure and Mark Aston will be very happy with the progress he has made in 2022.

Leigh’s monstrous pack includes the likes of Adam Sidlow, who has had top tier experience with Toronto, Bradford and Salford.
He has two tries to his name so far this year, one coming against the Eagles in the reverse league fixture at the LSV.

Tickets

There will be no tickets sold on the gate due to the ongoing capacity restriction at the Sheffield Olympic Legacy Park.

You have until midnight on Thursday to purchase from eagles.mysportstickets.co.uk

By Dan Fowler, photo by Alex Coleman