Northern Rail Finals Day preview
Saturday July 20
Northern Rail Bowl
North Wales Crusaders v London Skolars (2.30pm – Premier Sports)
North Wales Crusaders coach Clive Griffiths admits he might not be able to stop the tears if the Crusaders can win Saturday’s Northern Rail Bowl.
Griffiths said: “I was pretty emotional when we qualified for the final, but I’ll have to be sponsored by Kleenex if we actually win it.”
He added: “One of my favourite sayings is that the ‘work in progress’ signs are still around the ground and training ground, but we’ve made terrific progress.
“From a blank sheet of paper in December 2011 to where we are now 18 months later is Roy of the Rovers stuff.”
Crusaders will start as favourites in their first major final, but London Skolars coach Joe Mbu remains quietly confident after a four-match winning streak.
Mbu said: “For the players and everyone involved, we’re just looking forward to enjoying the day and making the most of it. We want to be 100 per cent in terms of our preparation.”
The Skolars are at full strength for Saturday’s match, while Toby Adamson (ankle) is Crusaders’ only doubt.
Northern Rail Cup Final
Leigh Centurions v Sheffield Eagles (5.00pm – Premier Sports)
Leigh Centurions coach Paul Rowley will give fitness tests to Matt Gardner, Steve Maden, Simon Finnigan and Bob Beswick ahead of Leigh’s fifth Northern Rail Cup final.
The three-times winners prepared for Saturday’s final with a 34-22 win at Barrow Raiders, and Rowley insists his men are ready to cause an upset.
Rowley said: “We’re a club that takes every competition seriously and want to play in big games and big finals. You don’t get many opportunities to do that, and we want to be a part of every opportunity there is.
“We’re doing well. We like big games, we’re comfortable in big games and feel we know how to win them.
“This town and this club enjoys an occasion, and the atmosphere has been building since we reached the final. We’re happy to be here and we’re looking forward to getting out there.”
Sheffield’s 15-match winning streak came to an end with last week’s defeat against London Broncos, but coach Mark Aston believes his men can bounce back.
Aston said: “The guys are disappointed because we know we’re better than that (performance against London), but that will give us a bit more resolve and desire.
“We’ve never won the Northern Rail Cup. Leigh are a quality team with a great English coach, so we’ll have to be good and we’ll have to raise the bar – but we will do.”
Tickets for the 2013 Northern Rail Finals Day at The Shay, Halifax, on Saturday July 20, cost from just £15 adult and £10 concessions and can be purchased by visiting www.rugbyleaguetickets.co.uk or by calling the RFL Ticket Office on 0844 856 1113.
For people with any form of disability the RFL offers a free assistant place when booking tickets. For people with a visual impairment or non-sighted disability we also offer audio visual descriptive commentary for all our events.