Yesterday Featherstone and Leigh served up arguably the best 1895 Cup Final we’ve seen in the competition’s third instalment.
In many ways, it was always going to be this way given that Leigh and Fev are the two best teams in the Championship at present and have squads of Super League calibre. With such great quality at the disposal of both sides it was no surprise that it was a close game especially in the first half as both teams entered the break all square.
In the end, Leigh went on to win thanks to tries from Krisnan Inu, Ben Reynolds, Blake Ferguson, Man of the Match Edwin Ipape and Sam Stone in a bit of a surprise to the rest of the league.
Yes, Leigh have a Super League calibre squad, but the general consensus has been that Featherstone are the stronger side and squad especially after signing former Toulouse duo Mark Kheirallah and Johnathon Ford.
Despite this they were blown away by the Centurions in the second half succumbing to only their second defeat of the season having only previously lost to last year’s Super League Grand Finalists Catalans Dragons in a closely fought cup tie.
Thus, their first defeat against a Championship side was always going to be a big story and Leigh would have always been the favourites to pick up such a win but it still very well could rock the Championship.
Since defeating Leigh in Round Two of the league, Featherstone have enjoyed plain sailing but the loss yesterday stops them dead in their tracks.
Despite it not being in the league, it perhaps shifts the momentum over to Leigh in the race for top spot and also means that should the two meet in the play-off final for promotion that Leigh may have the edge having already beaten the Rovers in a do or die match earlier this season.
The loss of Mark Kheirallah makes matters worse for the Rovers and could leave Brian McDermott looking at his squad questioning what else he needs having built such a formidable squad that still couldn’t get the job done against Leigh on the big stage.
Could he dip back into the transfer market to address the loss yesterday?
Ultimately, it adds a little bit more spice to a fiery fight for promotion in the Championship and leaves the pressure on Featherstone to respond. They’ve had things all their way so far this season and after their first setback need to bounce back and quick. Now a big performance is needed when they take on Newcastle Thunder this week.
Brian McDermott certainly has plenty of experience in conjuring up performances after this kind of low in his days at Leeds. He also has quality players, plenty of which have been on amazing journeys which will have given them great character, who can deliver this kind of response and when they next meet Leigh in a do or die match dispatch them but that task is all the more difficult with Leigh now having the momentum and confidence a great win yesterday will have given them.