Super League 2023 Season Review: Leigh Leopards

Super League: 5th (P27 W16 L11 F585 A508 PD+77 Pts32); Play-offs: Eliminator; Challenge Cup: Winners


For most teams coming up into Super League, survival is the one and only aim. But backed by the heavy investment of Derek Beaumont and fresh from a record-breaking season of Championship domination, Leigh were confident of doing more than that.


This was a season that surely went beyond the wildest dreams of most Leigh supporters.

It started in ominous fashion with a rebrand that split opinion to say the least, as the Centurions became the Leopards with a new kit and logo.

But by the end of the season, it’s fair to say that the fans had been converted – success on the pitch helps, and they certainly had success.

Their greatest glory was of course in the Challenge Cup, as Lachlan Lam’s golden-point field-goal secured their first win in the competition since 1971.

That Wembley victory over Hull KR, coming after a brilliant semi-final win over St Helens, would have been enough to make this one of Leigh’s greatest-ever seasons – but they also enjoyed a great league season.

Three previous Super League campaigns had all finished in relegation, but it was a completely different story this time around as Adrian Lam’s squad made the play-offs with ease.

Between mid-April and their Wembley triumph, Leigh won 15 games out of 17, playing some exceptional rugby.

A powerful forward pack, fronted by Tom Amone, Robbie Mulhern and John Asiata and steered by Edwin Ipape, blasted through many a Super League pack, while coach’s son Lachlan guided the team exceptionally and Josh Charnley was a ruthless finisher.

It was truly a golden summer – capped on a summer’s day at Wembley in golden leopard-print shirts – but all summers come to an end and Leigh couldn’t continue their momentum.

They slipped out of the top two and then, in a dramatic final round, out of the top four, handing them an away eliminator clash against, of all teams, Hull KR.

This time the Leopards could not win the day and it was a disappointing end to what was still a glorious season.


Lachlan Lam was a fitting Wembley hero, and not only because the halfback won it for his dad, a previous Challenge Cup winner himself as a player.

The Lance Todd Trophy winner has been in fine form all season, registering 21 assists as well as nine tries of his own, leading the side on the field as effectively as Adrian has off it.

Lam’s work has allowed the outside backs to flourish and Josh Charnley’s resurrection has been another of the great stories behind the Leopards’ season.

Discarded by Warrington last year and close to giving up the game, the winger has returned to his best, scoring 26 tries and making a competition-high 36 clean breaks.

Little of that magic would be possible without the impressive foundations laid by the forward pack, led by Tom Amone.

The prop made 3,467 metres, more than any other player in Super League, at a whopping average gain of 8.27 metres per carry, and he formed a fearsome starting front-row partnership with Robbie Mulhern.


“Sport is full of ups and downs. I’ve been in Million Pound Games on the right end and wrong end of them. Challenge Cup finals, right and wrong end of them, too. It’s just sport. It’s a rollercoaster but the friendships you make and brothers make it all worthwhile.” Gareth O’Brien’s emotional reaction to Challenge Cup glory.

“Unfortunately this is not an investable sport any more to me, which is obviously very concerning. Unless there’s changes, I won’t be investing in it any further… I don’t care if anyone’s filming it because I’ve told the RFL clean and square. They are all in my box, all with the presentation party, the trophy’s already in the stadium and all the boards are sat here and waiting. It’s impossible to move it from here to St Helens, and then that gets dealt with by a decision from the referee who’s appointed by the people who are running the game that decide what goes on. There’s no helicopter needed because we can’t afford one. I’ll put it out there.” Owner Derek Beaumont smelled conspiracy in a remarkable tirade after Leigh’s defeat on the final day of the regular season to Wigan, who won the League Leaders’ Shield, and even threatened to start a new competition.

“There have been some great highs, and not only the Challenge Cup wins. We’ve broken records along the way, so many of them. It’s been achievement after achievement… It’s been an incredible journey.” Adrian Lam reflecting on the season after play-off defeat.


52 years between Challenge Cup triumphs for Leigh, who claimed the trophy for the third time after previous wins in 1921 and 1971.

5 players named in the Super League Dream Team (Josh Charnley, Lachlan Lam, Tom Amone, Edwin Ipape and John Asiata), more than any other club, having never previously had any player make the cut.

528 carries made in Super League by captain Josh Asiata, more than any other player in the competition.


What else could it be, other than their triumph at Wembley?

It was certainly not Leigh’s best performance of the season, as both they and Hull KR struggled to play their best on an unfamiliar stage, but the Leopards were on course to win through Lachlan Lam and Tom Briscoe tries.

A late Matt Parcell score made it 16-16 and meant golden-point, but four minutes into extra-time Lam swung his left boot from almost 25 metres out and landed the field-goal that will forever be etched into Leigh history.


Just two weeks after their Challenge Cup win, Leigh were thrashed 52-10 by the same opposition at Craven Park with the ‘Cup hangover’ in full effect.

While a terrible defeat, the club were still on a great high, and far more painful was the 20-6 loss at the same ground in the first week of the Super League play-offs, which brought their season to an end.

Hull KR were much the better side and Leigh were so clearly a shadow of their former selves, with the game effectively up after a minute of the second half.


Tom Amone takes in Leigh’s Challenge Cup triumph as the celebrations begin (above).