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Category: Leigh Centurions

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Toronto, Toulouse and Perpignan? How the Championship went cosmopolitan

The part-time players in the Championship will need to keep their passports handy next year – and that’s before more clubs arrive from across the Atlantic

By Gavin Willacy for No Helmets Required, part of the Guardian Sport Network

On Saturday evening we will know whether Catalans Dragons or Leigh Centurions will be playing in the Championship next season. The losers of the Million Pound Game (that name – eurgh!) will go down and the odds are on a spineless Dragons team failing to play to their potential at a hostile Leigh Sports Village. That will be a great shame for Catalans and French rugby as a whole, but there are positives amid the gloom. It would mean two derbies with Toulouse Olympique and both clubs would be expected to challenge Toronto Wolfpack and London Broncos for promotion.

And that, in a nutshell, is the other problem. Part-time clubs in the Championship will have to travel to all four of those exciting destinations, flung far from the M62. Throw in either Barrow or Whitehaven – who meet in the League 1 play-off final on Sunday – and the financial impact on clubs such as Swinton, Batley, Sheffield, Featherstone is considerable. But they better get used to it, as there could soon be away trips to the USA and Ireland on the schedule, too.

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Widnes on track for top three after Lloyd White try helps beat Leigh

• Qualifiers: Leigh 8-24 Widnes
• Widnes in top three of Qualifiers and set for Super League return

Widnes took a significant step towards a swift return to the top flight next year with a 24-8 victory here in the Super 8 Qualifiers. At times this season they have looked in serious danger of being in the Million Pound Game when the Qualifiers come around. But the Super 8s truly show what a team is all about and, with three rounds left, it looks much clearer who will finish where come the end of the Qualifiers.

At the top Warrington andHull Kingston Rovers appear on course for a top-three finish and an automatic place in Super League for 2018. Below them is a three-team battle for the final spot between Widnes, Leigh and Catalans. This victory for Widnes, their third in succession, puts them firmly in pole position for the third.

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Shaun Lunt double sinks Leigh to keep Hull KR on track for Super League return

• Leigh 16-20 Hull KR
• Captain seals victory with late try after Leigh dominate early on

Hull Kingston Rovers took a significant step towards an instant return to Super League next season by maintaining their unbeaten start to the Qualifiers with victory over Leigh Centurions.

The Robins, widely expected to be the side most capable of achieving promotion from the Championship this season, will probably need to win only three of their remaining five games after two tries from their captain, Shaun Lunt, laid the platform for victory here.

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Chris Houston double lifts Widnes off bottom and leaves Leigh more problems

• Widnes 36-10 Leigh
• Two tries apiece from Houston and Thompson help home side to victory

Widnes’s impressive midsummer renaissance may come too late to prevent them spending the tail-end of this season in the Qualifiers, but it will certainly give them hope that if their destiny is a relegation battle in the so-called “middle eight” they could well have enough to get out of trouble.

Related: Warrington fight to stay in Super League a year after contesting the Grand Final

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Leeds earn gritty win over Leigh to end gruelling run of Super League matches

• Leeds 22-14 Leigh
• Both sides playing their third match in eight days

It is these moments, the final game of a demanding period which involves playing three times in eight days, where you perhaps learn the most about a side. However, in a week which has featured criticism aplenty from coaches and players alike, the most obvious lesson of all was how it is perhaps more important to seek out quality, rather than quantity, if the sport is indeed to undergo a restructuring this winter.

For those arguing the sport’s stars are playing too often, this was the ideal night to press home their case. If any of the Rugby Football League came along to watch a game which featured almost as many penalties as points, they would have surely found it hard to disagree. One double-header weekend over Easter is congestion enough but another – squeezed in to allow an England pre-season training camp in Dubai which never actually happened – is clearly too much of a strain.

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Super League round-up: Warrington Wolves shock Leeds Rhinos

• Wolves record first win of the season with 25-14 victory
• Salford Red Devils record crushing 54-18 win at Hull FC

Leeds Rhinos, who had started the day in second place behind Castleford Tigers, received a shock at the hands of Warrington Wolves. The home team had only mustered a single point from their opening seven games but won 25-14 at Halliwell Jones Stadium, their first victory of what had been a miserable campaign.

Wolves were 12-4 up at the break, Ryan Atkins going over twice, both times converted by Declan Patton, after Tom Briscoe had scored an early try for Leeds. They extended the lead through Tom Lineham early in the second half but Leeds narrowed the deficit to four points when Matt Parcell and Joel Moon both scored. A tense finale looked certain but, 13 minutes from the end, Kurt Gidley came up with a crucial try for Warrington and Patton was again unerring.

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Leeds overcome battling Leigh as Danny McGuire returns from injury

• Leigh 14-17 Leeds
• Rhinos score three first-half tries to overturn Centurions’ flying start

Leeds got off the mark in the Super League after coming from 8-0 down to beat promoted Leigh 17-14 in a nail-biting finish at the Sports Village.

Most of the points came inside the first 14 minutes and, although defences tightened up considerably, there was no let-up in the entertainment, with the Rhinos hanging on desperately in a frantic finish to leave the Centurions still looking for their first win of the season.

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Super League roundup: Leigh slump on return as Luke Gale shines for Castleford

• Castleford 44-16 Leigh; Widnes 16-28 Huddersfield
• Gale racks up 24 points for Castleford as Leigh struggle

Leigh and Widnes slumped to defeats in their first fixtures of the new Super League season as Castleford and Huddersfield, two teams seen as potential contenders for the title, hit the ground running.

Related: Mark Percival edges St Helens to victory over Leeds in Super League opener

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Super League 2017 team-by-team guide: can Leeds Rhinos bounce back? | Aaron Bower

How will new boys Leigh fare? Can Warrington shake off the double disappointment of last year? Are Wigan contenders once more?Last year produced arguably the most unpredictable Super League season in history as Leeds went straight from winning the treb…