Derek Beaumont can be proud of himself in 2023 guiding Leigh Leopards to Challenge Cup Final success, competing with the likes of Wigan Warriors, St Helens and others and finishing way above the likes of Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC.
They have defied the odds and look like a team well and truly on the up as we look ahead to 2024.
But their brilliant 2023 campaign didn’t end the way they would have wanted it to.
They crashed out of the play offs after a 20-6 defeat to Hull KR but after the game Derek Beaumont made an uplifting statement.
He said on social media: “And that’s how it should end boys with smiles on your faces! Super super proud of each and everyone of you!
“What a year of firsts and never stopped until the end! History been made that can never be repeated! A massive thanks to all our boys wives children and families for supporting them throughout and a massive thanks to our fans old and new you’ve been amazing!
“Enjoy a well deserved off season and look forward to what next year brings! Thank you lads for everything good luck to hull kr for the rest of the season.
This was always going to be a great game as a rematch of the first Challenge Cup Final without Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and St Helens since 1986.
Hull KR had secured home advantage in the game last week but, despite trying to speed the game up, had to battle through a number of errors.
They conceded the opening points after a strange penalty against Matt Parcell. He was in front of the play the ball but got involved in the play and was subsequently offside.
He was penalised and Ben Reynolds nailed the penalty to give the Leopards the advantage early on.
They had a few chances to build pressure especially after a huge hit by Lachlan Lam which saw the ball knocked free but on the next set the Leopards squandered the opportunity with James Batchelor mopping up a kick.
Hull KR slowly but surely battled back into the game ironically by speeding the game up around the ruck and on the back of inroads created by dummy half runs, Elliot Minchella won a penalty due to a high tackle from Joe Wardle.
This time Brad Schneider nailed a penalty to make it 2-2. He looked destined to score the opener after some great interplay between Jack Walker and Matt Parcell – two Grand Final winners in 2017 with Leeds Rhinos – saw them carve open the Leopards with a series of offloads.
But the last pass to Schneider was deemed forward denting an attacking opportunity that most days would be described as a certain try but Ed Chamberlain came across to tackle him after the whistle was blown.
However, Hull KR would eventually get the opening try with a nice set play putting James Batchelor through a gap before an offload to Jack Walker to score.
Then another former Leeds star pounced on a brilliant one on one strip by Matt Parcell. On the next play Ryan Hall powered over despite the efforts of Joe Mellor.
A try just before the break, they got one just after the break after an error from Gareth O’Brien with Sam Luckley getting over for a relatively easy try with a disguised run.
Leigh then had a try disallowed for obstruction around the ruck but did get themselves back in the game when Josh Charnley scored in the corner after a sweeping move.
But Hull KR secured their semi-final spot with a penalty.