Giants deal blow to Abram's airy ambition for Leigh

Leigh 12 Huddersfield 30
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The Independent Online

It was a first night on which Leigh fluffed most of their lines. The newcomers to Super League knew that it was going to be tough; they now have a much clearer picture of just how tough.

It was a first night on which Leigh fluffed most of their lines. The newcomers to Super League knew that it was going to be tough; they now have a much clearer picture of just how tough.

Apart from two late tries, the side that have aspired to the élite division for so long were put firmly in their place by an impressive Huddersfield. Conditions were dreadful and the floodlights were persuaded to work only 15 minutes before kick-off, but the evidence was visible to all. Leigh will need to improve markedly if they hope to win games at this level.

Their coach, Darren Abram, localised their deficiencies into one incident early in the second half. Having elected to play into the gale in the first half, he had been confident of "riding the wind" to victory in the second.

If that strategy looked over-optimistic, it fell apart completely when Neil Turley let a kick land in the midfield mire and Stuart Jones booted ahead to make it a 20-point lead.

Abram brought out the big hook for Turley immediately and he was soon followed to the sidelines by Oliver Wilkes, who had been playing strongly but had to walk for a clear high tackle on Eorl Crabtree.

Leigh deserved some credit for playing to the final hooter, after the Giants had started to ease off, bringing them tries from Matt Sturm and Rob Smyth. That late flurry helped Abram detect "a lot of positives" in Leigh's performance - an effort he felt was undermined by the referee, Ian Smith. "The referee has a job to do and I wouldn't like to say what I thought of his job today," he said.

A team with so many new players will take some time to bed in, but the issue of discipline is one that must be addressed quickly if Leigh's fans - so eager for Super League - are not to have a frustrating season. Those fans created a puzzle on Saturday night. More than 5,000 bought tickets, but only 4,048 showed up at The Coliseum. The scale of the challenge is there for all to see, but this seems a little early to be staying away.

Leigh: Turley; Wilshere, P Jones, Cooper, Smythe; Kent, Duffy; Moore, Rowley, McCurrie, Wilkes, Leafa, Ferris. Substitutes: R Jackson, Stapleton, King, Sturm.

Huddersfield: Donlan; O'Hare, Evans, Gene, St Hilaire; Thorman, Penkywicz; P Jackson, Drew, Gammon, Nero, S Jones, Roarty. Substitutes: Reilly, White, Crabtree, Smith.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).

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