Leigh Leopards end Catalans Dragons curse as John Asiata makes long-awaited return

Ben Olawumi
Adrian Lam

Leigh Leopards head coach Adrian Lam

Curse. Hoodoo. Bogey team. Call it what you want, but before their Round 9 clash, Catalans Dragons were the only current Super League club that Leigh Leopards had never beaten in a regular season game.

Of the 14 different opponents Leigh, both as Centurions and Leopards, have ever faced in Super League, there were just three they had never beaten ahead of tonight’s thumping 30-2 home win.

Bradford Bulls and Widnes Vikings are two of them, beaten two and five times by those clubs during their respective time in the top flight alongside the Leythers.

But they had faced no one without success more often than the Dragons – seven times to be exact, losing every one.

Three of those defeats were in 2023, with Steve McNamara’s outfit one of just two teams the Leopards failed to register a win against in 2023. Champions Wigan Warriors were the others, also beaten thrice by their near neighbours across the season.

The Catalans curse is no more though. Leigh registered their first-ever regular season victory against the French side and a first of any kind on home soil in style.

Leigh Leopards end Catalans Dragons curse as John Asiata makes long-awaited return

Before tonight, the only other Leigh win against Catalans came in Perpignan in 2017 during The Qualifiers. Adam Higson and Cory Paterson grabbed braces in a 30-6 triumph that day, with Josh Drinkwater the other try-scorer for the Centurions.

The Dragons would have the last laugh just a few weeks later however with victory at the Leigh Sports Village in the Million Pound Game against the odds.

Neither of those are counted towards the nine-game regular season encounter tally before tonight, for the obvious reason of not being regular season clashes.

But if you want a taste of how long Leigh have waited for tonight’s win, it’s just their second in 11 matches against the Dragons across all competitions and all offshoots of league fixtures, with the first of their defeats a Round 4 Challenge Cup tie in 2011.

On a night which saw the league leaders toppled, Leopards captain John Asiata made his long-awaited return from a calf tear. Out since March 1, he featured off the bench for circa 20 minutes, and had the impact you’d expect after getting the welcome back you’d expect from Leigh’s adoring supporters.

It’s not quite history-making stuff, but it’s a curse-ender and a win that Leigh desperately needed, this just their second victory of the season in Super League.

Josh Charnley, Kai O’Donnell (2), Umyla Hanley & Matt Moylan can add their names to the short list of Leigh try-scorers in victories against Catalans. Matt Moylan going 5/5 with the boot will be a welcome sign for all of a Leopards persuasion, too.