Leigh Centurions 44-12 Batley Bulldogs: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

Leigh Centurions are headed to Super League and deservedly so. The Centurions have been a joy to watch all season and aren’t just joining the top division to make up the numbers in 2023.

The Bulldogs produced a valiant effort but the Centurions would not be denied their Super League destiny.

Highlights:

Near misses
Twice Leigh looked like they had opened the scoring thanks to their second-rowers in the first 10 minutes. The first saw a run from Joe Wardle and an offload ready for Nene MacDonald. However, great Batley defence saw the ball go to the ground. Then, Sam Stone carved through untouched but the try was called back for obstruction.

Gilmore’s kicking game causes Leigh problems
Tom Gilmore was causing havoc in the opening 13 minutes with his kicking boot. A lovely probing kick behind down the left had Leigh worried which nearly caught the Centurions out. Then on the next few sets his high bombs made the inexperienced Blake Ferguson and Krisnan Inu struggle. The next kick would even allow Batley to pin down the Centurions in their own 20 forcing the league leaders to kick early from deep.

Batley Blunder
The trouble was, after causing the Centurions to do that, Luke Hooley returned the kick with a probing run but tried a no look pass to Dale Morton. The winger wasn’t ready, dropped it and Lachlan Lam scooped it up and darted away for the opener.

Hooley makes amends
That error undid their perfect start and left a blemish over what had been a brilliant start from Hooley himself who had already come up with try saving moment when deal with Lam’s grubber and after his mistake he came up with another try saver stopping a rampaging run from Ed Chamberlain.

Inu misses opportunity
The Centurions were building pressure after the end of the first quarter. However, when the opportunity opened up for Leigh, a grubber king followed looking for Inu who got there first but couldn’t ground it instead knocking on.

Desperate defence from Batley
A few minutes later, on the back of a penalty, Leigh were mounting the pressure again and yet somehow Batley wouldn’t be breached. First Kieran Buchanan came up with a huge hit and perfect read to stop an opportunity before an off the cuff play from the Centurions saw Batley scramble in order to deny him.

Centurions finish half with important flurry of points
Leigh looked like not being able to open up the Bulldogs defence, but a lovely disguised ball from Lam saw Joe Wardle cut through prior to a lovely offload saw Inu go over in the corner before making it 12-0. Wardle was causing Batley endless problems and he kept doing so hitting a similar line off Lam to get over for a vital try.

Aekins races away as Leigh race to Super League
Leigh enjoyed the perfect start to the second taking Gilmore’s kick and then stripping the Bulldogs down the left edge showing amazing speed to score in the corner. That perfect start continued with a lovely break away try with a stellar move sealed by Joe Mellor.

Batley get deserved try but Leigh hit straight back
Batley deserved a try and got one via Dale Morton from a lovely Tom Gilmore kick but that was like poking a tiger. Straight after that, Leigh went short with the kick-off and soon got their seventh try of the game via Inu on the left as the Centurions cruised to Super League.

Talking Points:

Batley make the start they needed barring blunder
Batley needed to get into the arm wrestle early and they certainly did. What made the start even more effective was the kicking game from Tom Gilmore. It was one of the best opening 15 minutes from a halfback I’ve seen all season and forced the Centurions to kick from deep as Batley heaped the pressure on. However, their ideal start was undone by an error from Hooley and Morton.

Leigh patience
For the first half an hour, Leigh were struggling to break down the Bulldogs but they kept testing Batley and sapping the energy from their opponents. They didn’t panic and eventually the floodgates opened.

Bulldogs do themselves proud
We need to give Batley for the effort they showed in tonight’s game especially in the first half. The desperation they showed in defence to make Leigh work for their chances was inspiring and epitomised what the Bulldogs are all about and why they have defied the odds in getting to the Grand Final.

Father’s Day in rugby league
This morning we saw Ivan Cleary and Nathan Cleary mastermind back-to-back titles for Penrith and tonight it was all about Adrian Lam and Lachlan Lam. Adrian Lam’s Leigh project yielded promotion as his son Lachlan was the man of the hour ripping the Bulldogs to pieces. It will be brilliant to see him in Super League next year.

Leigh not just in Super League to make up the numbers
This Centurions team is full of stars and although a few will have to leave to enable the club to fit within the Super League quota rules, they are set to make some more exciting signings ahead of 2023. They will be an exciting team to watch in next year’s Super League and who knows, maybe we could see them push for the play-offs.

Player Ratings:

Leigh Centurions
1 Caleb Aekins – 8
23 Krisnan Inu – 9
16 Ed Chamberlain – 7
4 Nene MacDonald – 8
26 Blake Ferguson – 7
30 Lachlan Lam – 10
7 Joe Mellor – 8
8 Adam Sidlow – 7
9 Aaron Smith – 7
13 Tom Amone – 8
11 Joe Wardle – 9
12 Sam Stone – 8
18 John Asiata – 8
Substitutes
6 Ben Reynolds – 7
21 Edwin Ipape – 8
24 Kai O’Donnell – 9
26 Ben Nakubuwai – 8

Batley Bulldogs
1 Luke Hooley – 8
22 Dale Morton – 8
4 Josh Hodson – 6
3 Keiran Buchanan – 6
5 Jonny Campbell – 6
6 Ben White – 7
7 Tom Gilmore – 8
8 Adam Gledhill – 7
17 Luke Blake – 6
13 James Brown – 6
11 Dane Manning – 7
12 Lucas Walshaw – 7
30 Martyn Reilly – 6
Substitutes
14 James Meadows – 6
9 Alistair Leak – 6
16 Michael Ward – 6
26 Nyle Flynn – 6

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Frank Atherton
2 months ago

A brilliant night to see The Centurions gain a place in Super League. Thanks to all the Batley players and fans who stayed after the match and joined in our celebrations. It was a credit to Rugby League. Lets hope the hierarchy don’t cock things up in the coming months.