Talking League: How right-minded Giants got it wrong

Leigh dismantled Huddersfield last weekend. Photo: Paul McCarthy
Leigh dismantled Huddersfield last weekend. Photo: Paul McCarthy

Leigh certainly cut the Giants down to size last Friday night, blunting a potentially tricky attacking unit.

Although Rick Stone thought otherwise post-game, I felt Huddersfield too often played to their right edge.

You don’t need to be a genius to realise the Leigh pack was all over their counterparts

Dave Parkinson

One would question why not, with the likes of Ukuma Tai’ai, Leroy Cudjoe and Jermaine McGillvary out there.

But you can do it too much and Leigh defended strongly from the inside, with Matty Dawson getting to McGillvary a couple of times to tip him over the touchline.

Had the Giants seen something on that side? I found their play predictable in the first half and speaking to more learned people than I about it, this made them pretty easy to defend against.

Now Rugby League also full of “spot players”, guys made to do lots of defensive work because of their size, technique or attacking ability, and it was noticeable from looking at Opta stats that Leigh targetted Cudjoe and Tai’ai on that side to great effect.

The second row made 36 tackles, while Cudjoe had to make 3, which is a huge number for a backline player.

Another noticeable stat was that collectively the nine Giants forwards made 90 carries in the game for 492 metres, while Leigh’s 10 forwards made 112 carries and 823 metres. You don’t have to be a genius to realise the Leigh pack was all over their counterparts.

Neil Jukes spoke highly of the efforts of Danny Tickle. He was very effective, making 76 metres from 12 carries and putting in 35 tackles.

From a pure ball-carrying point of view, Sam Hopkins (111 metres), Gareth Hock (101) and Jamie Acton (94) led the way, with Lachlan Burr and Atelea Vea also contributing.

If you compare that to the Huddersfield pack, in which Sebastine Ikahihifo made most metres (72), it says the Centurions’ line speed was right up there to restrict space.

It was great to see Adam Higson back after he missed the Wigan game and he made most metres for Leigh (128), while there was also some hard graft from Mitch Brown, restored to the centres after a couple of strong weeks running the ball from full-back.

Stone felt the scoreline was harsh on his side but I’d only agree partially.

Leigh worked so hard to restrict Huddersfield. They found themselves on their own line for large sections but found the time to strike. This for me was Leigh being clinical.

I felt there was another key factor. With everything first half going to the right, Danny Brough cut a frustrated figure, and when he did get his hands on the ball he decided to try to win the game himself.

Leigh tackled him 14 times, meaning he made more carries than six Giants forwards.

I remember writing “lots of graft, not much skill” as one of my notes, but I do feel the Centurions came to life in the second half and sometimes it’s just about winning – not everyone can play like Castleford!

This week he Wolves are in town and they have hardly set the RL world alight so far, slipping to four Super League defeats.

They were never in the game against Wigan, despite scoring a couple of tries in the second half. For me their pack wasn’t up for the fight, with Wigan making almost 300 metres more through the forwards.

That said, I don’t think we have seen the real Warrington yet, save for their first 40 half against Brisbane Broncos.

Once again I hope Leigh can defend with controlled aggression. With that and some more conviction from the backline maybe, just maybe, Leigh could spring a surprise.

Anything less and it will be another loss. Talking of losses and I haven’t proved a good luck charm for either Leigh Miners Rangers or Leigh East

Miners went down 34-12 at Thatto Heath, where former Leigh Centurions forward Jamie Tracey was in good form, while East also lost 36-6 at East Leeds.

Early on the East game looked like it would be one to forget as the hosts went 18-0 up and fancied themselves for a massive score, but East were galvanised after a bad injury to Lee Rowley. The game was stopped for over an hour while an ambulance arrived.

Lee has since revealed that he suffered a dislocation, broken ankle and broken leg, which has required screws and a plate being fitted.

It is particularly gutting as Lee is a real Leigh East stalwart and such a genuine and top bloke to boo,t and I want to personally wish him a speedy recovery through this page.

Myton Warriors, who won their first game of the season before losing at Kells last week, visit Miners on Saturday.

East host Division Two newcomers Crosfields, who had two hat-trick heroes last weekend (including the son of former Warrington boss Paul Cullen) when they beat Salford City Roosters 74-0.

I’d urge anyone reading this who hasn’t given amateur rugby a go to come along and see total commitment and endeavour.

It has been a month since the new Super League season started and in that time I have seen all 12 clubs in action. Here is my summary as if each team was a film I’ve watched (give me a bit of poetic licence here).

Castleford Tigers: The Empire Strikes Back – a better, more crowd-pleasing sequel to the stuff they were playing last year. They look the complete team at the moment, with depth of character and development.

Wigan Warriors: Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels – underrated and somewhat streetwise, with a couple of really strong leads in George Williams and Liam Farrell.

Hull FC: Avengers: Age of Ultron – Expensively assembled squad looking to try to be better than last year. They have won three of four games so far but it’s a hard one to judge. Ask me again further into the season.

Leeds Rhinos: Beauty and the Beast – From zeros to heroes in seven days, that sums up Leeds to the tee. When they have been good, they are great – just ask Catalans.

Catalans Dragons: American Gangster – They have been pretty gritty so far.

Salford: Training Day – Better than people give them credit for.

Wakefield: Fight Club – Everyone writes off Wakefield but they confound their critics.

Leigh – Goodfellas: Well, I am a Leigh fan, aren’t I, so they are all goodfellas to me! I’ve not seen any Joe Pesci types around the dressing room though!

Huddersfield: A Few Good Men – Huddersfield have some good players ut not as many as they have had previously, plus they kept going down their right in the first half despite what Rick Stone said– “You can’t handle the truth!”

St Helens: Lincoln – Lifeless and dull. Will we see any excitement?

Widnes: Any Channel Five afternoon film – not bad, not good, just average.

Warrington: The Phantom Menace – much-hyped, disappointing start but everyone will carry on watching hoping that they get better.

Right, that’s enough film talk. I’m going to head off with some popcorn and a DVD. See you next week!