They’re back! Looking down and out at one point but Leigh Centurions soon returned to 2019 in some style.
Having failed to attain a Super 8s Qualifiers in 2018, the heavy spending Centurions were forced into the Championship Shield, experiencing a catastrophic chain of events that almost led to their inexistence.
They were forced to release effectively a full squad of players but then soon rallied and brought in a new squad, with new and returning players coming together, ‘gelling’ enough to help Leigh into a play-off spot.
They managed that under John Duffy, one of the returning personnel after his short spell at Featherstone.
Though their play-off run was over quickly, 2020 should make for an interesting season for Leigh as they look to go better and return to Super League for the third time.
Best Result: Leigh Centurions 52-20 Bradford Bulls
The pick of a few strong performances has to be their home thrashing over the Bradford Bulls in June.
The Centurions were in good form heading into the clash, but scoring over 50 points against your play-off rivals is always something to savour.
Returning to the club was Martyn Ridyard, who starred in the show. Producing an excellent half-back partnership with Josh Woods, they were unstoppable.
Ridyard slotted over ten goals, with tries coming from Matty Costello and Andy Thornley, with Iain Thornley, Gregg McNally and Liam Forsyth each bagging a brace.
Bradford could only respond with tries through Matty Wildie, George Flanagan and Matthew Storton as there was no stopping a dominant Leigh outfit.
The result also avenged their defeat at Odsal in March, one that would also prove decisive towards the play-offs and something they’ll no doubt want to replicate in 2020 at a minimum.
Worst Result: Widnes Vikings 30-12 Leigh Centurions
One of their forgettable day outs was their comprehensive away defeat at Widnes Vikings.
Widnes had just come down from Super League so it was always going to be tough but considering their own problems off the field, other clubs cashed in whereas Leigh did not have enough to do the same.
The Vikings started superbly with tries through Danny Walker, Joe Lyons and Anthony Gelling.
Leigh did respond with efforts from Josh Eaves and Jonny Pownall before Lyons’ second try just before half-time opened the gap up prior to Calum O’Neill scoring the only try in the second half to seal the win for the hosts.
Though not their heaviest defeat, a highly regrettable result as a win could very well have made a difference in the run in to the play-offs, something Leigh did achieve, albeit with some difficulty.
Main Man: Martyn Ridyard
Returning home was veteran Martyn Ridyard, who enjoyed a fantastic season.
Following stints with Huddersfield Giants and Featherstone Rovers, Ridyard slotted immediately back in Leigh’s ranks and rediscovered his previous form for the club that helped them become so potent in the past.
Providing countless assists, striking up devastating attacks with Ryan Brierley and Josh Woods and even slotting over 70+ goals in 2019, Ridyard demonstrated he still had unfinished business in the game.
Surely there’s plenty more fun to be had for the 33-year-old as he looks to bow out on a high on what has been a favourable career with his local club.
Predicted 8th – Finished 4th
A superb bounce back considering their situation after last season and they deserve all the credit for it.
They were always going to be up against it, effectively a brand new squad coming together, possessing minimal time to gel with one or another but over the course of the season, they did ever so well.
Securing enough wins to finish 4th was superb. Though their play-off run was cut short by rivals Featherstone Rovers, there’s still plenty to build on heading into 2020.
A few more signings maybe and Leigh could very well return as genuine contenders for promotion back to the Betfred Super League.