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Victory over Leigh Centurions would be “one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time” according to Craig Lingard

Tomorrow we will be treated to one of the biggest games in the rugby league calendar as Leigh Centurions and Batley Bulldogs take centre stage with a spot in Super League up for grabs.

Previously branded as The Million Pound Game, that underlines the prize up for grabs. For Leigh this is all about fulfilling their potential and finally cementing themselves as a Super League club after being relegated from the top tier on a number of occasions.

But for Batley, it is more of a fairytale. It’s bigger than the finances, it’s about the experiences. It’s about the trips to Headingley, to the DW Stadium and to St Helens.

It’s about one of the oldest clubs in the sport and the first ever Challenge Cup winners returning to the top table.

Denied a spot in Super League in 1996, the Bulldogs have waited 27 years for this game and the town is buzzing and emotional as best captured by a brilliant report on ITV by Chris Dawkes which you can watch here:

Within the report a certain comment from coach Craig Lingard stands out.

Talking about what it would mean to him, Lingard said it would be one of the biggest shocks in sport itself, let alone rugby league.

“It’s a real family club, a closeknit club,” Lingard said, “Everybody pulls together for everybody else. For the club it’s a huge game but for me personally it means a lot

“If we did manage to do it, it would probably be one of the biggest sporting shocks of all time and not just in rugby league. In sport as a whole.”

It’s hard to disagree with such an assessment given Leigh have only lost twice all season once at Fev when they were still finding themselves and once to Super League opponents Hull KR by the skin of their teeth.

But it all comes down to 80 minutes. Anything can happen…

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