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PREVIEW: Bradford Bulls v Leigh Centurions

In what could turn out to be one of the best matches of the Championship season, current table-toppers Bradford Bulls take on last years League Leaders Shield winners Leigh Centurions. Bradford kept their unbeaten start going last Saturday when they defeated Swinton. Leigh almost slipped up against London but just managed to get over the winning line.

Last Time Out

Bradford travelled to the Select Security Stadium in Widnes to take on Swinton Lions, who had to move their game from Sedgley Park due to ongoing ground issues. The hosts put up a decent fight against James Lowesside but the latter were too strong and won the game 48-16. Bradford posted the first three tries of the match thanks to a brace from Kris Welham and a lone score from Tom Olbison. Josh Barlow responded positively for the Lions with a try of his own but the Bulls finished the half well by scoring two tries. Wingers Omari Caro and James Clare both crossed the whitewash to give their side a comfortable 26-6 lead going into the break. After the restart, Matty Blythe and Welham extended the Bullsadvantage with a try each before Swinton replied with a couple of tries that showed a bit of the spirit and character that the Lions will need to secure their Championship status during the business end of the season. Shaun Robinson and Greg Scott were the scorers for the hosts as they looked to cut into the deficit further as the match went along. However, in similar fashion to the first half, it was Bradford who finished the stronger out of the two sides and got on the scoresheet two more times before the final hooter sounded. Olbison registered his second try of proceedings before Lee Gaskell sauntered over for the final scoring act of the evening.

Leigh Centurions survived a scare by the London Broncos at the Leigh Sports Village last Sunday. The Broncos were in front for most of the match before a superb final quarter performance from the hosts won them the tie 24-20. It was London who impressed from the off and they recorded the opening three tries to really lay down a marker. Alex Foster, James Cunningham and Rhys Williams all got over the chalk, but only one conversion was successful from Wes Naiqama which ended up proving costly. Dayne Weston and Jake Emmitt were both sin-binned during the first half and two out of the three tries occurred when one of them was absent. Sam Hopkins sparked a bit of life back into his side with a try two minutes before the break. But, after the interval, there was no score for the first 20 minutes till Ben Hellewell struck for the visitors to really put the pressure on Leigh to react. And they reacted, in some style too. Three tries in five minutes flipped the game on its head and towards the Centurions. Jamie Acton, Jake Emmitt and Rangi Chase scored the vital four pointers to cruelly snatch the game away from Andrew Hendersons London team who will have retuned back to the capital wondering how they didn’t get any reward out of the match.

Key Battle  

If a top Super League referee like Richard Silverwood gets the call to be the man in the middle for a Championship match, youd be expecting some sort of animosity to occur. The forwards of both Bradford and Leigh are arguably the best in the Championship and will do anything it takes to get the victory. After last years round one match between the two teams, when everything got heated on and off the field, the RFL have done everything in their power to stop history repeating itself. Adam Sidlow and Tom Olbison started as the prop forwards for Bradford against Swinton last weekend, with Rhys Lovegrove and Mitch Clark on the bench for backup. A day later saw Leigh take on London, and the Centurions started former NRL regulars Fuifui Moimoi and Dayne Weston in the prop forward positions. Sam Hopkins, Jamie Acton and Jake Emmitt all made their way on to the pitch from the bench, making try-scoring contributions in the process. Its going to be a brilliant clash at the weekend, and it will definitely be worth keeping an eye out for the hard-running carries and strong tackles in the midfield.

Prediction  

Bradford have started their season perfectly with three wins from as many matches but this weekend will be an acid test of immense proportions as Leigh come to town. The Centurions lost their first match of the season, and nearly suffered again at the hands of the Broncos, so they will not be wanting to slip up again any time soon. Leigh will be striving to make up ground on their West Yorkshire rivals and this weekend is the perfect time for them to strike – Leigh by 12

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