Back in Super League: LEIGH 48 HUDDERSFIELD 40

Leigh Centurions are in Super League. Photo: Paul McCarthy
Leigh Centurions are in Super League. Photo: Paul McCarthy

Leigh secured automatic promotion to Super League in spectacular fashion with a 48-40 triumph over Huddersfield to spark wild scenes of celebration at the Leigh Sports Village.

Stand-off Martyn Ridyard scored 24 points and former Huddersfield winger Matty Dawson scored a first-half hat-trick of tries as the Centurions added the Giants to their earlier prized scalps of Salford and Hull KR to maintain their 100 per cent record in the Super 8s Qualifiers.

Leigh led 48-10 after 50 minutes before Huddersfield produced a spirited rally which produced 30 points in 24 minutes but came far too late to affect the result and made a mockery of their first-half horror show.

While Leigh can now look forward to a return to Super League from which they were relegated in 2005, the Giants suddenly find themselves fighting for survival just three years after being crowned league leaders, starting with a must-win game against Leeds next Sunday.

The Giants made the worst possible start, conceding a drop-out from the kick-off, and that set the tone for a shambolic first-half performance that left coach Rick Stone shell-shocked as he walked down the tunnel.

Centre Greg Worthington, who came through the junior system at Huddersfield, grabbed the first of the Centurions’ eight tries with just 53 seconds on the clock and Ridyard kicked the first of his eight goals.

The visitors compounded their early blunder by putting the re-start out on the full and, when winger Aaron Murphy lost the ball in the first tackle 15 metres out from his own line, Leigh punished them by working Dawson over for his first try.

It was quickly 18-0 when Josh Drinkwater’s cut-out pass got Dawson over for his second try on 12 minutes to leave Huddersfield in a state of shock.

The Yorkshiremen briefly gave themselves hope when second rower Michael Lawrence scored from their first meaningful attack on 17 minutes and shortly afterwards Murphy went over for another.

The Giants were pressing again when Ridyard intercepted Brough’s pass and sprinted 90 metres for his first try which brought a swift end to their fightback.

Had scrum-half Jamie Ellis been able to take Jermaine McGillvary’s pass with the line open after half-an-hour, the game would have been wide open but it was spilled and it proved to be a significant turning point.

Leigh immediately went upfield for Dawson to complete his hat-trick, loose forward Cory Paterson touched down Drinkwater’s grubber kick and Ridyard grabbed his second after the Centurions kept the ball alive after the half-time hooter had sounded.

There was no way back for Huddersfield from 42-10 down and their plight worsened when Brough kicked out on the full and Leigh centre Mitch Brown took full advantage to go over for his side’s eighth try.

Yet full-back Jake Connor, one player with no relegation worries after signing for Hull next season, pulled a try back for Huddersfield on 52 minutes and that sparked a flurry of points as the home side relaxed their grip on the game.

England centre Leroy Cudjoe went over for two tries in three minutes and Ellis also forced his way over for two, with Brough taking his goal tally to six from seven attempts to leave his side wondering what might have happened had they been so poor before the break.