Giants stride back to big time

Huddersfield 38 Leigh 16

Dave Hadfield
Friday 20 December 2013 04:23

Huddersfield reclaimed the Super League place they lost 12 months ago with what was ultimately an overwhelming Northern Ford Premiership Grand Final victory over a Leigh side that threatened to spoil the party in the first half.

The Giants were a cut above their opponents in organisation and discipline, while they also had the game's outstanding individuals in Chris Thorman, Stanley Gene and Steve McNamara.

With their unbeaten record over the NFP season, Huddersfield started as the logical favourites, and they took the lead within two minutes when Leon Felton put Leigh under pressure by fumbling Steve McNamara's raking kick. Leigh were caught offside from the turnover of possession, and McNamara kicked the game's first points.

With so much at stake, both sets of players showed obvious signs of nerves, but Leigh went some way towards taming theirs after eight minutes when Bobbie Goulding got a sharp pass away to Simon Baldwin, who stood in the tackle to put Dale Cardoza over for a try converted by Neil Turley.

If that was the best of Baldwin, the worst soon followed. When he tried to get another pass away, Paul March intercepted and the division's leading try-scorer, Hefin O'Hare, picked up off his toes to go 60 yards for the equalising try. When Stanley Gene was pulled down in the tackle, McNamara's penalty put the Giants ahead.

Turley could not land the conversion, nor the two penalties that Leigh won in quick succession. Those looked expensive errors when Ben Cooper got over for Huddersfield, only to have his effort disallowed for obstruction after scrutiny by the video referee.

There was no escape five minutes before half-time when Gene kicked through cleverly, Marcus St Hilaire won the race to touch down and McNamara landed the conversion from the touchline for a four-point half-time lead.

Leigh needed to rock Huddersfield at the start of the second half, as they had in the first. Instead, a scrum awarded to Huddersfield after a lost ball saw Chris Thorman cruise through for far too easy a try.

Leigh's frustration showed in the flare up that followed, with Dave Whittle and Rob Roberts both going to the sin-bin.

When Hallas broke through on the left to set up St Hilaire for his second and McNamara continued to tag on the goals, the Giants were well and truly on their way back to the top flight.

John Hamilton got over for Leigh, but their ragged discipline saw them finish the match with 12 men, with Adam Bistow going to the sin-bin before O'Hare's second try from long range underlined the fact that Huddersfield really do belong in a different division.

Huddersfield: Cooper, O'Hare, Crabtree, Hallas, St Hilaire, Gene, Thormon, Flicker, March, Wittenberg, Atkins, Roberts, McNamara. Subs used: Cruickshank, Molyneux,Turner, Rice.

Leigh: Turley, Felton, Cardoza, Roper, Marns, Swann, Goulding, Matautia, Rowley, Bradbury, Baldwin, Isherwood, Bristow, Subs used: Price, Duffy, Hamilton, Whittle.

Referee: K Kirkpatrick (Warrington).

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