Huddersfield 26 – 4 Leigh

Huddersfield Giants duly collected the points they needed to ensure a top eight finish in the Betfred Super League with victory in a penalty littered game at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The Giants looked a far improved outfit from that which went down 30-0 at LSV earlier in the season, effectively controlling the game from the start.

The Centurions put in a big defensive effort but rarely threatened in attack as the Giants’ impressive defensive structures stifled any attacking threats from the visitors.

Leigh’s only score came from a kick to the corner by Daniel Mortimer, palmed down by Adam Higson and touched down by Josh Drinkwater for his first try of the season.

But by then the Giants were 20pts to the good having scored three tries augmented by Danny Brough’s excellent kicking in a frustratingly scrappy and stop-start encounter that contained 23 penalties.

Lee Gaskell ended the deadlock just after the midway point of the first half after the Giants finally broke down Leigh’s defence in an incisive right wing move. Brough converted and added a penalty for an 8-0 half-time lead after an easily forgettable opening 40 minutes punctuated by 14 penalties.

Quick-fire tries by Ukama Ta’ai and Gaskell within six minutes of the re-start , both converted by Brough, effectively decided the issue. Ta’ai ploughed over by the side of the posts and Gaskell swooped after the Leigh defence failed to deal with a towering Brough kick.

Leroy Cudjoe sealed the Giants’ win with the best try of the night six minutes from time.

Huddersfield coach Rick Stone pin-pointed a scrappy win over Catalans at the Magic Weekend as the kick-start to his side’s revival in fortunes. His side have taken 13pts out of a possible 18 in their last nine games.

“It was a tough, physical game and we showed some good resilience,” Stone said.

“It started probably at the Magic Weekend with a bit of a rusty win over Catalans. We began to respect the process a bit more – the boys have bought into that and the last couple of months have been good.”

Leigh Centurions head coach Neil Jukes said: “I thought we turned up for one another and had a real dig, but there were just too many silly scenarios which kept putting unforced pressure on ourselves.

“While the scoreline doesn’t look great, to do the amount of defending we did shows that there’s still a good work ethic within them. But regarding smartness we probably get one out of 10.”

It was a disappointing result for club captain Micky Higham, making the 500th appearance of his illustrious career.

“Micky has shown unbelievable dedication in the modern game to play 500 games,” Jukes added. “To maintain his spot at top clubs for so long and to play at such a high level for so long shows incredible athleticism and dedication.”

Huddersfield: Jordan Rankin; Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Sam Wood, Darnell McIntosh; Lee Gaskell, Danny Brough; Sam Rapira, Kruise Leeming, Sebastie Ikahihifo, Oliver Roberts, Dale Ferguson, Ryan Hinchcliffe. Interchange: Adam O’Brien, Shannon Wakeman, Paul Clough, Ukama Ta’ai.

Tries: Gaskell (21, 46), Ta’ai (44), Cudjoe (74). Goals: Brough 5/ 5.

Leigh: Mitch Brown; Matty Dawson, Ben Crooks, Samisoni Langi, Adam Higson; Daniel Mortimer, Josh Drinkwater; Gareth Hock, Micky Higham, Harrison Hansen, Cory Paterson, Atelea Vea, Glenn Stewart. Interchange: Eloi Pelissier, Danny Tickle, Sam Hopkins, Lachlan Burr.

Try: Drinkwater (57); Goals: Drinkwater 0/ 1.

Referee: Scott Mikalauskas; Half-time: 8-0; Attendance: 5,535; Penalty count: 11-12.

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