Championship returns to SKY this Thurs

Sky Sports’ Co-operative Championship coverage returns on Thursday – and it’s back with a bang.

Free-scoring Leigh Centurions, one of only two teams with a 100 per cent record after the Northern Rail Cup group stages, host last year’s beaten Grand Finalists Featherstone Rovers in a mouth-watering encounter.

Centurions must cope without Ricky Bibey (Achilles) and Adam Higson (shoulder), but their confidence is sky high after averaging more than 48 points in each of their five competitive games of 2011.

However, Leigh assistant coach Paul Rowley warned: “This is our sternest test yet.”

He added: “We’ve started the year pretty strongly. We’re concentrating on our own performances rather than the opposition, because we’ve got to make sure what we do is spot on and acceptable from our own point of view.

“We’re still improving, but we’re reasonably happy so far.”

Dual-registered Tom Armstrong is set to feature for the hosts.

But Rowley said: “We’re a bit gutted that Ricky Bibey will miss out, because we’re a big side and we’ve been going well in that area.”

Leigh face Featherstone and Barrow in their first two Co-operative Championship fixtures. “You couldn’t have picked a better game to start the season for the television viewers,” said Rowley.

Rovers are missing front-row forward Tony Tonks after he was given a two-match suspension at Tuesday night’s RFL disciplinary hearing.

Young prop Dom Dee could keep his place in the 17 after impressing during last week’s Carnegie Challenge Cup win over The Army.

Featherstone coach Daryl Powell, recently appointed as the new England assistant coach, labelled Dee’s performance as “excellent” after the 86-0 triumph.

Rovers’ only defeat this year was a 22-16 reverse against Widnes a fortnight ago.

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