League clash was the big one

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HALIFAX and Leigh go head to head for a place in the Carnegie Challenge Cup quarter finals at the Leigh Sports Village on Sunday (2.0).

But Centurions’ hooker and former Fax star Bob Beswick believes the Lancastrians have already won the game that really mattered.

Leigh, coached by another ex-Fax number nine in Paul Rowley, ended the Shay side’s 100 per cent start to the Co-operative Championship season with a convincing 32-18 away victory last Thursday night.

And while Beswick, who left the club last autumn after three years and a Grand Final win, is aware of the attraction of a place in the last eight, he admits he would always have chosen to take the league points.

“There’s a chance for a Championship club to go really well in the cup this year and Halifax and Leigh both want to be that club,” said the Ireland international.

“Personally though, I think the three points in the league were more important, because you don’t want to find yourself too far off the pace at the top, but that’s just my view.

“Having said that, it’s one game at a time and we obviously want to win on Sunday too. I think we can improve on what we did on Thursday, but Halifax are going to come back strong.

“We need to be stronger too, and I think both teams will be looking forward to it.”

Beswick was one of the most high-profile casualties of Fax’s rebuilding programme last autumn, rejecting a new deal before landing at the LSV.

And while he turned in a typically high-quality performance against his former club, he was equally quick to emphasise how much he had enjoyed his stay in West Yorkshire.

“It was a great win; we worked really hard for each other, which is what we are really trying to focus on this year, and it was enjoyable,” he said.

“We were under the pump for 25 minutes; Halifax played really well.

“They kicked really well and were really well disciplined with their defence and their attack.

“It was pleasing to come through a game like that and win.

“We’d lost a couple of those arm wrestle type games in earlier rounds against Batley and Featherstone, so it’s a sign of progress for us.

“Personally, it was alright; but I will always play it down because it’s not just about me. I loved my three years there, loved it to bits.

“The fans, everyone involved with the club, was always great to me but I’m at Leigh now and I’m enjoying that as well.”

Featherstone captain Stuart Dickens is plotting another major Challenge Cup upset, this time against the team he supported as a boy.

The 32-year-old prop forward, Rovers’ longest-serving player, led his team to a stunning 23-16 fourth-round win over Castleford and is now aiming to topple the holders and 5-2 favourites Wigan, who are the visitors to the Bigfellas Stadium on Friday night.

“I grew up as a Wigan fan but I’ve never played against them at first-grade level so it’s something I’m looking forward to,” he said. “I know the lads are all relishing the chance to take on the likes of Sam Tomkins and Sean O’Loughlin as well because they’re some of the best players in the game.

“We did a great job against Castleford and our game plan paid off.

“We’ll need to work hard during the week and we’ll be doing everything we can to ensure we limit their threats but we’ll be going out there to challenge them and try and put ourselves in the best position to make it through to the next round.”