Leigh Leopards face Hull KR in the first eliminator of the Betfred Super League play offs

Leigh Leopards travel to Craven Park to face Hull KR in their Super League play-off match on Friday, a replay of this year’s Challenge Cup final.

The Leopards won 17-16 that time out, after the game went to golden point. Lachlan Lam scored the drop goal which saw Leigh win their first Challenge Cup title for 52 years.

But the Robins will be hoping to avenge their bitter defeat to progress to the semi-finals of the play offs. Here is all the pre-match information.

Much like the cup final, there was little to separate the two in the regular season.

Both finished on 32 points, with just a points difference of 14 going in favour of Hull KR. This slim advantage in the league gives them a home tie tomorrow.

In the form table, Hull KR also look the stronger of the two sides, having won their last five games. Leigh have been victorious just twice in their last five fixtures.

Indeed, one of those losses included the 52-10 drubbing at Craven Park by the Robins, which will concern Leigh fans.

Yet their worries will be eased by the successful appeal of Tom Amone’s one-match ban.

Having faced suspension for a crusher tackle against Wigan Warriors, he has since had his ban overturned, allowing him to participate in the crucial play-off tie.

The availability of the Australian will be a huge boost for the Leopards, especially as the forward is the Super League’s top metre maker so far this season.

The RFL said: “Leigh Leopards challenged two charges against Tom Amone arising from Monday’s Match Review Panel, both relating to the Betfred Super League round 27 fixture against Wigan Warriors.

“Their initial challenge to a Grade B charge of dangerous contact was upheld, with the independent Operational Rules Tribunal accepting a plea of not guilty.

“Leigh then withdrew their challenge to a second Grade B charge of dangerous contact.

Amone’s punishment for that offence was automatically downgraded from a one-match suspension to a £250 fine because of the dismissal of the previous charge, meaning he is available for Friday’s elimination play-off at Hull KR.”

There have also been five Leigh players included in the Betfred Super League Team of the Season, testament to the club vastly exceeding expectations so far this year.

Josh Charnley and Lachlan Lam made it into the Dream Team backline, whilst Edwin Leigh, Tom Amone and John Asiata all feature as forwards.

This demonstrates the astonishing season the Greater Manchester club has had as a newly promoted side and should give these players plenty of confidence going into the fixture tomorrow.

Josh Charnley’s story in particular is extraordinary. Having been written off by many in rugby league, the 32-year-old was set to retire, even picking up shifts as a bricklayer to ease his transition away from the sport.

Yet his redemption in Super League has seen him earn a spot in the Betfred team of the season, a remarkable turnaround after his poor end to his time at Warrington Wolves last year.

Despite his three Grand Final victories and scoring over 1200 points in professional rugby league, his comeback must be one of the sweetest achievements in his career.

In other team news, Rovers’ Dean Hadley has been ruled out of tomorrow’s fixture. The 31-year-old was hoping to return from a calf injury sustained before the match against Wakefield Trinity but has been left out of Hull KR’s 21-man squad.

The stage is set for a huge first game to kick off the Super League play-offs. Rovers go into the game as the favourites with the bookmakers, but Leigh Leopards will be hoping for a repeat of their Challenge Cup success earlier this season, defying the odds in the first eliminator game.

Feature image credit: 43 Clicks North.

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