Leigh Centurions v Rochdale Hornets
Sunday 8th April 2018, 15:00pm
Championship - Round: 10
Stats over last 8 encounters
HORNETS FACE CENTURION TEST
Rochdale Hornets make the short trip to Leigh Centurions on Sunday afternoon, in the first meeting of the two clubs since 2014.
In a disappointing Easter period, Alan Kilshaw’s men were beaten twice as they couldn’t back up an impressive performance against Toronto Wolfpack. On Good Friday, they became the first side to be defeated by Sheffield Eagles as they lost out 38-20 at the Olympic Legacy Park. An improved second half wasn’t enough to claw back a victory, with Rob Massam, Danny Yates, Ben Moores and Deon Cross getting on the scoresheet.
Then, on Easter Monday, Featherstone Rovers ran out 42-0 winners in terrible conditions at the Crown Oil Arena to pile more misery on the Hornets.
In stark contrast, Leigh Centurions picked up back-to-back wins in a successful Easter campaign which started with a derby victory over Swinton Lions. Craig Hall picked up a brace, as well as kicking six goals to lead the side to a 40-10 triumph.
They then defeated league leaders London Broncos, as a brilliant second half performance saw the Centurions run out 31-18 winners. Drew Hutchinson, Harrison Hansen and Jordan Thompson scored, as Liam Hood crossed twice. Ben Reynolds added five goals and a one-pointer which rounded off the win.
Sunday will mark the first meeting of these two sides since the 2014 Championship season, a year which saw the reformation of the second tier end in Hornets being relegated to League 1.
In the first of two clashes, Leigh claimed a 34-22 victory at the Leigh Sports Village thanks to doubles from Liam Kay and Ryan Brierley, with both players now at Toronto. In fact, none of the 34 players who featured on that day only Jamie Acton is still involved with either of the clubs. Hornets performed well despite the loss, with Gareth Langley, Adam Bowman, Chris Baines and Daniel Davies crossing the try line.
The return fixture was a day to forget, as Leigh romped to a 72-22 triumph, with Hornets finally having the chance to put right to wrong of that afternoon.
Rochdale are without Danny Yates still, as he struggles to recover from a thigh injury. Alan Kilshaw has rung the changes following the Easter period, with Richard Lepori, Dave Allen, Ryan Maneely and Seta Tala all missing from the squad. Warrington Wolves duo Dec Patton and Morgan Smith come in, along with potential debutant Alex Gaskell and the returning Dec Kay.
Hornets 19-man squad: Dec Kay, Alex Gaskell, Earl Hurst, Deon Cross, Rob Massam, Lewis Palfrey, Dec Patton, Joe Taira, Ben Moores, Luke Adamson, Toby Adamson, Lee Mitchell, Gary Middlehurst, Dec Gregory, Morgan Smith, Pat Moran, Billy Brickhill, Lewis Hatton, Callum Mulkeen.
Leigh have made three changes to the squad which defeated London Broncos last week. Matty Dawson-Jones, Peter Mata’utia and Paterika Vaivai all miss out, with Kevin Larroyer, Ricky Bailey and Larne Patrick all coming in.
Centurions 19-man squad: Craig Hall, Ben Crooks, Rhys Evans, Ben Reynolds, Drew Hutchinson, Jamie Acton, Kevin Larroyer, Bodene Thompson, Harrison Hansen, Liam Hood, Jordan Thompson, Larne Patrick, Kyle Lovett, Nathan Mason, Jack Owens, Greg Richards, Ricky Bailey, Jordan Dezaria, Micky Higham.
ONES TO WATCH
Craig Hall has been one of Leigh’s top performers since his move from Toronto Wolfpack, and the fullback will be hard to contain in attack. Micky Higham is back in the playing squad after a short retirement, and his experience around the ruck could be vital. Another experienced Leigh star is Harrison Hansen, and he could prove tough to handle in the middle of the field.