Leigh Centurions are headed back to Super League in 2023 but they had to get passed a valiant effort from Batley Bulldogs to secure their place in the top division for next year.
Though they beat Batley 44-12, the scoreline didn’t reflect the effort put into the fixture by the West Yorkshire side and just how hard Leigh had to work to gain control of the game.
After the match Batley boss Craig Lingard spoke to Premier Sports and underlined his pride in his side’s performance:
“Immensely proud of the effort they put in, even in the last five minutes they were still shooting out of the line trying to make a bit of a difference so massively proud of the achievement this year, just one game too far.”
He praised their defence and also identified the error for the first try of the game – which went the way of Leigh’s Lachlan Lam – as a key moment but praised his team for continuing to fight after that: “Our goal line defence was outstanding. We got into the game as we wanted to do and just a simple error gifted Leigh that first try which burst our bubble a bit but we didn’t give in.”
When asked if Batley could push for promotion in 2023, Lingard remained realistic noting that the club has the second lowest budget in the division emphasising the size of their achievement to make the Grand Final.
He didn’t rule promotion out of course: “We never say never, we’re realistic in what we’ve got and what we haven’t got. Our budget is probably second lowest in the Championship and it’s not going to change next year. Keighley have come up and they’re recruiting well for next year so we’re starting behind the eight ball for next year compared to what other teams are spending and recruiting.
“I’ve still not got a budget for next year.”
In terms of preparation for 2023, it seems Batley have struggled but talks this week should reveal what kind of budget Lingard has to work with next year: “It’s been trying to start for the last three months or so. We’ll have a sit down in the next week and try to work out where we are financially and we’ll recruit accordingly.”