Batley Bulldogs’ Craig Lingard and Featherstone Rovers’ Craig Hall scoop Championship awards

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BATLEY BULLDOGS’ Craig Lingard has won the Betfred Championship Coach of the Year while prolific Featherstone Rovers full-back Craig Hall has claimed the Player of the Year award.

Lingard saw off competition from Halifax’s Simon Grix and Whitehaven’s Gary Charlton to secure his trophy following a campaign which has seen his part-time side finish fourth in the competition.

Operating on a far smaller budget than most of their rivals, they knocked Bradford Bulls out of the play-offs last weekend and visit leaders Toulouse Olympique on Saturday for a place in the Grand Final.

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Lingard, 43, is in his second season since rejoining the club where he played more than 200 games and remains its leading try-scorer.

“It’s a massive honour, not just for me but for the club and the whole coaching staff and backroom staff,” said the ex-Keighley Cougars chief.

“It’s not just me who has this award; it might have my name on it but, with how we’ve worked together, the whole backroom staff and medical staff have been absolutely fantastic this year particularly with the Covid situation.

“They’ve been invaluable more than ever and obviously the players have been terrific,” he added.

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Lingard said “hard work” was the key to Bulldogs’ success this term.

On his award, he added: “It’s totally surprising; I’ve never had one.

“But we’ve performed really well this year and if you’re performing well as a group then I suppose your name will get mentioned.

“If you look at the other guys nominated, Halifax have performed really well as well and Whitehaven have probably performed above expectations as well so to get it above those two others is a really proud moment for me.”

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Meanwhile, the experienced Hall came top for player of the year in a list of nominees that included Featherstone team-mate James Harrison, Toulouse captain Johnathon Ford and Batley’s Tom Gilmore.

The ex-Wakefield Trinity and Hull KR star secured it, though, and, in doing so, completed a memorable double having also lifted the League 1 Player of the Year award with Toronto Wolfpack in 2017.

Hall, 33, has scored 26 tries in the Championship this season with only team-mate Gareth Gale scoring more.

But he has also kicked 85 goals and is the competition’s highest points scorer with 274.

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Featherstone host Halifax in the other semi-final on Saturday and Hall said: “It’s nice. It’s been easy playing in the team I’ve been playing in.

“I’ve just been getting on the end of what the boys have been doing.

“It didn’t sink in at first as there’s some strong players in this category.”

Other winners included York City Knights who were awarded the Championship Club of the Year while Keighley’s teenage full-back/winger Phoenix Laulu-Togaga’e claimed the League 1 Young Player of the Year.

Barrow Raiders were named League 1 Club of the Year.

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