Jukes: We’re the underdogs so the pressure is off

Harrison Hansen is one of several ex-Salford players at Leigh
Harrison Hansen is one of several ex-Salford players at Leigh
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Neil Jukes is demanding his players learn lessons from their nervy win over London Broncos ahead of Saturday’s clash with Salford Red Devils.

Leigh appeared to be cruising to victory as the game entered the final quarter, leading 34-8, but they were rocked by four London tries in the last eight minutes which saw that lead slashed to 34-30.

Coach Jukes was furious with the way his team switched off and knows they must be better against Salford, who started their Qualifiers campaign with an impressive win over Huddersfield on Sunday.

“We switched off and that’s one thing you can’t do in this competition,” said Jukes. “On Saturday we saw Leeds put 60 on Featherstone despite being close early on. Salford will look at our score and be getting really excited.

“Defensively we can’t have another 11 minutes like we did against London. That was the first 11 minutes we watched in the review.

“We did everything right then did everything wrong. We started the second half with six sets when they didn’t have a touch of the ball. Then at the end they had something like nine sets without us touching the ball.

“We could have got ahead of ourselves with a big scoreline against London but it might turn out that it it’s a good lesson for us. Salford play some decent footy and will attack us from 70 metres out. We have got to be good and the players know that.”

Salford coach Ian Watson, a former Leigh player, was at the Sports Village on Saturday. Several Leigh players were at Salford until recently such as Reni Maitua, Harrison Hansen, Andrew Dixon, Cory Paterson and Gareth Hock. These two sides met in the qualifiers last season at the AJ Bell Stadium and Salford ran out comfortable winners.

But the last time Leigh and Salford met at the Sports Village, Centurions pulled off a shock in the Challenge Cup with a 22-18 win.

Leigh have injury doubts over Fuifui Moimoi (hamstring) and Adam Higson (hand) but they have several players waiting to come back such as Lee Smith and Sam Hopkins. Centre Greg Worthington, who was red carded against London, could also miss out if he receives a ban.

Despite the worrying nature of the last 10 minutes against London, Jukes said: “We are all about progression. Last year it took us four games to get a win and we’ve managed that in our first week so that will take the pressure off us. “Against Salford we will be the underdogs so the pressure’s off. We have got to be very good to stick with them.”