Rowley hails Leigh players and fans after cup win

Leigh coach Paul Rowley hailed his players and the club’s fans after they won the Northern Rail Cup with a 43-28 win over Sheffield.

It was the second time in three years, and a record fourth time in total, that the Centurions had got their hands on the trophy, with stand-off Martin Ridyard crowned man of the match.

A try on the stroke of half time from Anthony Bate meant Leigh went in 16-14 down at the break, but they turned it around in the second half, scoring 27 unbroken points in the last 25 minutes to secure the win at The Shay.

Rowley said: “We were a bit tentative first half, we had a lot more in us, and the most pleasing thing was that the score was pretty close. We were a bit nervous, we didn’t express ourselves the way we planned, so we addressed that at half time and everything else slotted in to place.”

The final was played at Halifax, the first time it’s not been played at Blackpool’s Bloomfield Road since 2004, and Leigh fans made up a large proportion of the 4,791 in attendance.

Rowley added: “They love a day out. They came here and really made the atmosphere, and made it our home ground. I think we showcased what we’re about.

“I’ve said it before – if you want diamonds, you go diving in South Africa; if you want oil, you go to Saudi; if you want rugby, you come to Leigh.

“We’ve got a beautiful ground, a natural resource of quality players, and ready made supporters.”

Rowley also hailed the impact of his largely locally sourced players, and their attitude when times have been rocky off the pitch.

He said: “The uncertainty off the field has never affected us, it’s probably only strengthened our group and made us more determined to succeed.

“Team spirit’s easy when you’re 95% born and bred in the town that you represent. They’re all good friends, not just work colleagues, and you do a little bit more for your friend than you would a work colleague, and I think that showed today.”

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