Leigh 18-36 Huddersfield: McGillvary hat-trick helps Giants collect first win of 2021

Huddersfield secured a quarter-final date with reigning Super League champions St Helens after seeing off Leigh 36-18 in the Challenge Cup.

The Giants earned their first win of 2021 courtesy of a hat-trick of tries from winger Jermaine McGillvary.

Huddersfield raced to a 20-6 half-time lead but had to stave off a Leigh comeback in the second half.

The Centurions gave debuts to Ben Flower at prop and new signing Nathan Peats off the bench.

The Giants opened the scoring after seven minutes through Kenny Edwards as the forward bulldozed his way over before Jake Wardle added the extras.

The visitors’ second try came via Sam Wood on the left flank. A quick shift found the Centurions short and Wood dived over to score. Wardle’s kick from the sideline was perfect, taking the early lead to 12-0.

Huddersfield edged further ahead soon after thanks to the boot of Wardle after the west Yorkshire side were granted a penalty.

McGillvary crossing for one of three tries at Leigh Sports Village.

The match was slipping from Leigh’s grasp as they coughed up yardage and cheap penalties. It got worse in the 22nd minute when McGillvary touched down on the right edge. Wardle could not convert from the sideline this time, so the gap remained 18 points.

But the Centurions’ defence became more ragged, with holes opening up at will. The pain continued when fullback Blake Wallace was forced off with concussion.

However, Leigh clawed a try back when Jordan Thompson crashed over to score. Ben Reynolds’ conversion cut Huddersfield’s lead back to 18-6.

But errors continued to be the home team’s downfall and Wardle added another penalty goal to push the lead back to 14 points.

In the 33rd minute Luke Yates was sin-binned for a late tackle on Ryan Brierley. The Centurions pushed to use their extra-man advantage, but the Giants defence held firm. Huddersfield held out to lead 20-6 at the break.

Leigh needed to be the first team to score in the second half if they were to stand a chance of winning the game.

But it was the visitors who came out firing and McGillvary dived over for his second try of the afternoon.

Wardle could not convert from the sideline, but it did not matter as the Giants were soon over again.

This time they switched their attack to the left wing and in the 51st minute Wood crossed for his second. Wardle’s attempted conversion was wayward but the match was almost as good as over at 28-6.

The Centurions managed to claw back a try when debutant Peats swooped on a charged down kick. Reynolds gave the home team some hope with his calm conversion.

Almost immediately Leigh were in again, this time Thompson touching down to score after a quick shift to the left. Reynolds’ kick cut it back to 28-18.

Momentum was with the Centurions, but that was soon snuffed out when Adam Sidlow was sin-binned for a high shot on Owen Trout.

The final blow came in the last six minutes when McGillvary and Lee Gaskell both crossed to seal Huddersfield’s victory.

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