Leigh Centurions went down to a defeat at The Kirklees Stadium but were far better than the scoreline suggests.
Leigh Centurions travelled to Huddersfield Giants for the final game of the BetFred Super League season. Huddersfield had won their last five home meetings with Leigh. The last away victory against Huddersfield for Leigh was back in 1990 at Fartown when they won by by 22 points to 10. Centurions only victory in Super League was a 30-0 home win in 2017 at Leigh Sports Village.
The sides have played one another twice this season, Huddersfield won both games. The Challenge Cup R3 game 18-36 and in the BetFred Super League R7 game 6-44.
The team and supporters had to endure an M62 hold up Eastbound due to a traffic accident, but thankfully all made it for the kick off.
Leigh kicked the game off towards their own fans. The temperature inside the stadium was 17 degrees and the forecasted rain was nowhere to be seen.
Centurions were penalised twice near their own line and Giants took advantage with a try by Senior in the corner. Russell’s left footed conversion attempt fell short and the home side led 4-0 on 6 minutes.
Leigh hit back and went close through Ellis and Hood but the attack broke down when Thornley spilled the ball.
Sidlow made a big break through the middle and passed to Brierley who put a teasing kick into the in-goal area forcing a goal line drop out. Centurions mounted another attack and Whitbread dived over to level the scores on 15 minutes. Brierley converted and Centurions led 4-6.
Giants were clearly rattled and mounted an attack and following a high kick on the fifth tackle, Cudjoe outjumped the Centurions defenders and touched down. Russell converted and the home side led 10-6 on 19 minutes.
Centurions thought they had scored again on 22 minutes when Gerrard crossed the line but the referee brought play back for a forward pass.
Bell was inspirational upfront creating several openings along with Hood and Sidlow and Huddersfield were defending for their lives.
Centurions levelled things up when centre Thornley raced clear of the defence to touch down. Brierley made it 2/2 with a great kick from the touchline and put Centurions back ahead at 10-12 on 32 minutes.
Bell was harshly penalised for an infringement at the play the ball and Giants had a great position to score from 10 metres out but the Centurions held firm and snuffed out the attack.
Thornley was adjudged to have knocked on after 38 minutes and Giants took full advantage when Trout went in easily between the posts. Russell converted and the lead changed hands again, 16-12.
Giants attacked again on the stroke of half time and scrum half Russell took advantage of two missed tackles to race in and score. Russell converted his own try, 22-12.
Half Time Huddersfield Giants 22 Leigh Centurions 12
Centurions were first on the attack after the restart when Logan burst down the flank. He put in a chip kick but the ball was picked up by Giants full back Ashall-Bott.
Giants were looking dangerous on attack and Centurions had to be on their guard in defence. Brierley saved a certain try with a heroic tackle on 20 metres but from the next play the ball, the home side set up a great opportunity for Senior who chipped ahead and gathered his own kick to touch down. Russell’s touchline conversion fell short but Giants had built a commanding lead at 26-12 on 49 minutes.
Giants were applying most of the pressure and Centurions efforts were hampered when Ashworth was sin binned for a late challenge. The home side took advantage of the man advantage and Greenwood forced his way over between the posts. Russell added the two and the lead had grown to 32-12 after 59 minutes.
In fairness Centurions went on the attack to salvage something from the game and on 62 minutes a clever defensive splitting kick by Brierley was grounded by Elliot. Sadly, Brierley’s conversion attempt wasn’t accurate enough but Centurions were back in it at 32-16.
Pryce scored a 40 metre try for the home side despite a last ditch attempt to stop him by Brierley. Russell converted and Giants were twenty-two points ahead at 38-16 on 66 minutes.
Centurions weren’t finished and Elliot raced down the right flank and passed to Whitbread who touched down. Brierley’s conversion was wide, 38-20.
Giants centre Leutele scored for Giants on 72 minutes from a grubber kick. Russell’s conversion attempt but the home side had more or less ended Centurions hopes, 42-20.
The travelling fans as always were making themselves known, cheering their heroes throughout the game.
There was an exchange of views amongst the players two minutes from time and Peteru, on loan from Centurions was sinbinned for the cause.
Centurions were desperate to finish with a score and Russell obliged with a try in the corner. Brierley’s kick fell short to end the game and the season.
Full Time Huddersfield Giants 42 Leigh Centurions 24
Huddersfield Giants Ashall-Bott, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Leutele, Senior, Cogger, Russell, Wilson, Peats, English, Jones, McQueen, Lawrence
Subs Trout, Peteru, Greenwood Pryce
Leigh Centurions Brand, Elliot, Sa’u, Thornley, Logan, Brierley, Ellis, Whitbread, Hood, Sidlow, Hellewell, Stone, Bell
Subs Thompson, Gerrard, Butler, Ashworth
Referee Thomas Grant Attendance 3,867