Jukes: Give Red Devils 80 minutes of hell

Neil Jukes
Neil Jukes

Neil Jukes has challenged his players to produce an 80 minute performance at high-flying Salford on Good Friday.

After three successive defeats, Leigh find themselves slipping down the Super League table and life gets no easier with Easter games against Salford and Hull FC.

Centurions found themselves 28-2 after only 24 minutes against Catalans on Friday and although they rallied to cut the deficit to 14-28 four minutes into the second half, it was too big an ask.

“Super League’s all about consistency,” said Jukes (inset). “It’s been a case of our attack’s been good when our defence has been bad and vice versa. It’s too hit and miss and it’s a tough one to explain. What has happened to us hasn’t changed anything, it’s just reinforced my beliefs about what standards we need to be aiming for as a team. Consistency and belief are big things for us at the moment.

“But I am not going to sit here biting my fingernails till Friday. We’re going to work hard, go there and embrace it. The players have got to buy into that. We will dust ourselves down then attack Hull four days later.

“Our mentality has got to be right from minute one rather than only starting after 41 minutes which is what we did against Catalans. We were always chasing the game. In the first 25 minutes we made limited metres but there was some inconsistency in our decision making.”

Centurions look like being without forward Gareth Hock who was charged with using foul and abusive language against Catalans. He was sent to the sin-bin for the offence which typically carries a ban of one to two games.

Leigh have only just got Glenn Stewart back after suspension against his former club Catalans. However, Jamie Acton is able to play after being banned for the game against Catalans.

One positive from Friday was the return of full-back Gregg McNally after injury. He hadn’t played in Super League this season but his recovery from a leg injury was sufficiently ahead of schedule for him to play against Catalans.

“He got into good positions but fumbled a couple of kicks,” said Jukes. “He will get better and we expected him to be a little bit inconsistent in his first game. We had considered sending him to Sheffield (with whom Leigh have a dual registration agreement) to get a game but we thought the game against Catalans was a good opportunity for him.”

Leigh beat Salford when the sides met in last season’s Super 8 qualifiers at the Sports Village. The Red Devils only retained their top-flight status in the Million Pound Game against Hull KR last season with a Gareth O’Brien drop goal sealing an amazing comeback in Golden Point extra time.

This season, Salford have enjoyed some excellent results and were the first team to beat Castleford. Coached by former Leigh scrum-half Ian Watson, they will be looking to continue the form which saw them thrash Hull 54-18 at the KCOM Stadium last Friday.