Along with Batley v Bradford, there is another potentially enthralling match in West Yorkshire on Sunday. Halifax v Leigh has been the pick of Championship matches in past years as they have been two of the higher level sides in the division. Let’s hope the latest edition doesn’t disappoint at The Shay this weekend!
Last Time Out
Halifax lost 29-22 to London Broncos at the Trailfinders Sports Ground. It was another poor result for the West Yorkshire side who have struggled to get going at the start of the season. Fax did take the lead in the match thanks to a try by Luke Ambler but three consecutive tries from the Broncos put the hosts in a good position. William Barthau bagged a brace before Rhys Williams made the most of lost possession by Halifax. London held a 14-6 lead after their little stint of scores but the visitors did hit back before half-time through James Saltonstall, and his try was converted by Steve Tyrer. After the restart, Halifax came out of the blocks well and regained the lead courtesy of Scott Murrell. With the hour mark in sight, the next score became more and more important. London’s Ben Hellewell managed to get himself over the whitewash to put the hosts in the driving seat once more but the topsy-turvy game was to keep going in the same manner. Murrell added his second try of the afternoon during the final quarter and the lead had changed hands yet again. Then, to the delight of the home crowd, London registered two more tries to get the lead back and record a valuable victory. Nick Slyney and Williams both touched down for the Broncos before Scott Leatherbarrow kicked a drop goal to round off the win.
Leigh recorded a good win over Sheffield in round five, even with their off-the-field situation still causing headlines elsewhere. The Centurions went 10-0 up in the early stages as Dayne Weston and Adam Higson helped themselves to four pointers. Sheffield got on the scoreboard thanks to Rob Worrincy but Leigh didn’t seem to be startled by their opponents’ opening score as they hit back with one of their own through hooker Micky Higham. Eagles full-back Quentin Laulu-Togagae swooped over the whitewash as the visitors cut the deficit again. However, just before the half-time interval, Centurions debutant Lewis Charnock crossed the whitewash and his try was converted by Martyn Ridyard. Neil Jukes’ men were 22-10 up at the break and that lead was extended minutes after the restart. Reni Maitua got over the chalk to put his side in a healthy position but, as was the case for most of the match, Sheffield didn’t go away and it didn’t take long for powerhouse centre Menzie Yere to react by bursting over the Leigh try-line. As the match went into the final quarter, things got a bit heated when Gareth Hock and Mitch Stringer were sent to the sin-bin for an altercation after a penalty was awarded for Sheffield. Neither side scored in their absence but when they both came back on the field, the Eagles seemed reinvigorated and the 12 point deficit they faced was eradicated. Tries from Worrincy and Laulu-Togagae were converted and the match was all tied up heading into the last five minutes. Leigh seemed to wake up after the Eagles’ revitalisation and a penalty goal by Ridyard put the former back in front. A try from Cory Paterson on 78 minutes meant that the spoils were staying in Leigh, but not without a scare from their fellow full-timers.
Without both Rangi Chase and, obviously, Ryan Brierley for the game against Sheffield last weekend, the half-backs for Leigh consisted of new loan signing Lewis Charnock and Martyn Ridyard. Charnock got on the scoresheet with a debut try and Ridyard was on conversion duty, and he became the Centurions’ third highest points scorer in their entire history. Some achievement, and he’ll no doubt add to his tally this Sunday. Halifax went with Gareth Moore and Scott Murrell in the halves for their loss against London, with the latter scoring a brace but picking up an injury which will see him miss this weekend’s match. Ben Johnston will probably come into one of the half-back slots and he will fit in perfectly as he’s a very versatile and skilful player.
Both sides have flattered to deceive this season so it’ll be a case of proving to the fans that they do mean business in 2016. Halifax and Leigh play some of the most entertaining rugby in the league on their day so this Sunday could turn out to be a classic, if we’re lucky that is! – Leigh by 12