McMenemy makes Leigh pay for slow start

Hull 46 Leigh 14 (Half-time: 34-0)
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Hull moved smoothly into the last four of the Powergen Challenge Cup, but it would not have been so easy if Leigh had played the first 40 minutes here as they did the second.

At 34-0, Super League's bottom side were heading for a humiliation that could have inflicted further psychological damage on their dwindling survival hopes. Coaches traditionally ask their teams in these situations to try to win the second half; they did that, but that only left Darren Abram feeling more frustrated. "It's difficult to take on board that you can play so well for 40 minutes and do nothing in the first 40," he said. "We led to our own downfall in the first half."

Leigh had put up a creditable performance here in Super League the previous weekend, but it was soon clear that this was going to be a different matter.

Shayne McMenemy did much of the early damage, going over for one try and, after Leigh had conceded a string of penalties, setting up another for Tom Saxton, but Leigh did not help themselves by conceding two long distance interception tries.

The first of them came when Richard Horne picked off John Duffy's pass and Horne quickly added a second from a lovely short ball from Paul King, before Paul Cooke's kick bounced kindly for Jamie Thackray to dive on the loose ball for another.

Mike Govin was the culprit as Nathan Blacklock took the interception for the last of Hull's six first-half tries, with Leigh having had onlyfleeting opportunities, when Phil Jones had the ball stolen before the line and Danny Halliwell was taken into touch, by way of reply.

Leigh lifted their game noticeably after the break and was soon rewarded with a try by Richard Marshall from Jason Kemp's pass. A contentious penalty try awarded to Richie Barnett for John Wilshire's high tackle prevented any further erosion of Hull's lead. While Leigh were still absorbing that decision, Cooke claimed a try to go with his seven goals.

From that point, Leigh deserved some credit for finishing with tries from Rob Jackson and Halliwell. Like any surge of form from them in Super League, however, it came too late. Abram later said grudgingly that Hull would only reach the Cup Final if they were to meet the winners of the tie between Toulouse and Widnes.

"We've got the opportunity, but they haven't," said his opposite number, John Keir.

Hull:

Briscoe; Blacklock, Saxton, Yeaman, Barnett; Cooke, R Horne; Dowes, Brough, Carvell, G Horne, Kearney, McMenemy. Substitutes used: King, Tony, Thackray, Dixon.

Leigh:

Wilshere; Cooper, Halliwell, Jackson, Maden; Jones, Duffy; Fleary, Rowley, Stapleton, Leafa, McCurrie, Kent. Substitutes used: Govin, Marshall, Sturm, Bottom.

Referee: I Smith (Oldham).

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