Leigh Centurions 18-36 Huddersfield Giants
Betfred Challenge Cup Round Three
Jermaine McGillvary scored a hat-trick of tries as Leigh Centurions’ Betfred Challenge Cup hopes were ended by Huddersfield Giants at Leigh Sports Village at the third round stage.
John Duffy’s men found themselves 18-0 down after only 20 minutes and it was a deficit they couldn’t make up despite a spirited fightback which saw them trail 28-18 as the game entered the final quarter.
Ahead of Leigh’s first home game in 400 days, players from both teams observed a minute’s silence to pay respects to Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh who, along with Her Majesty the Queen, officially opened the stadium in 2009.
Leigh had Ben Flower making his debut in the front row while Nathan Peats was named on the bench for the first time since arriving from Australia. Ryan Brierley was switched to half-back with Blake Wallace moved to full-back though he missed much of the game after suffering an injury.
The visitors, who like Leigh have yet to win in Super League in 2021. made a strong start, scoring after only six minutes when Kenny Edwards barged in for a try which Jake Wardle converted.
Huddersfield continued to control play and scored a second try in the 12th minute when fast hands to the left allowed winger Sam Wood to score in the corner. Wardle again converted and also added a penalty goal to make it 14-0 to the Giants.
Worse was to follow for Leigh as Huddersfield claimed a third try through McGillvary though this time Wardle’s conversion was off target.
Leigh, having been starved of possession for the majority of the half, made the most of a rare spell of possession inside the Giants half when Jordan Thompson scored a try after a powerful reach for the tryline 14 minutes before half-time. Ben Reynolds added the conversion to make it 6-18.
But almost from the restart, Huddersfield were awarded a penalty and Wardle made to mistake to reopen a 14-point lead.
The Giants were reduced to 12 men when Luke Yates was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Ryan Brierley. Leigh had some promising moments before half-time but they were unable to create another opening.
Leigh’s hopes of facing St Helens in the quarter finals looked to have completely disappeared when Huddersfield scored twice in five minutes early in the second half. Both McGillvary and Wood claimed their second tries to give Huddersfield a 28-6 lead.
There was a flicker of hope for the home side when Peats scored after charging down an attempted kick through and Reynolds kicked the conversion. Another determined run from Thompson saw him crash over moments later and with Reynolds goaling, Leigh had cut the deficit to just 10 points.
But Leigh’s momentum was spiked when Adam Sidlow received a yellow card for a tackle on Owen Trout and facing 12 men, Huddersfield finished strongly. McGillvary completed his hat-trick before Lee Gaskell got over in the closing minutes.
Leigh return to Super League action on Friday when they visit Castleford Tigers.
Leigh Centurions: Wallace, Brand, Thornley, Mullen, Tierney, Reynolds, Brierley, Flower, Hood, Sidlow, Hellewell, Gee, McCarthy. Subs: Peats, Thompson, Ioane, Peteru
Huddersfield Giants: McIntosh, McGillvary, Wardle, Cudjoe, Wood, Gaskell, Cogger, Yates, Cunningham, Ashworth, Edwards, McQueen, Jones. Subs: O’Brien, Lawrence, English, Trout
Referee: Liam Moore