Lee Gaskell scored twice as Huddersfield Giants wrecked Micky Higham’s 500th appearance celebrations while securing their Betfred Super League status with a 26-4 victory over Leigh Centurions.
Former St Helens, Wigan Warriors and Warrington Wolves hooker Higham began, and looks like ending, his distinguished career with the Centurions but their penultimate game of the scheduled season is unlikely to be one of his more cherished memories.
The deadlock was broken just after the midway point of the first half when Gaskell started and finished a neat right-wing move involving the deft handling of Leroy Cudjoe and leading try-scorer Jermaine McGillvary. Danny Brough converted then added a 31st-minute penalty on his way to a total of five successful goal kicks.
Ukuma Ta’ai increased the home side’s advantage shortly after the restart when charging onto a short Kruise Leeming pass barely a metre out.
Moments later Adam Higson fumbled a high Brough bomb and Gaskell was quick to pounce and score, the two conversions helping the Giants to a four-score lead.
The Centurions grabbed a try back through Josh Drinkwater but the scorer’s touchline conversion was wide of the target.
Both sides squandered further chances before a dazzling McGillvary break down centre-field led to Huddersfield wrapping up the game with a Cudjoe score which took the current Giants skipper past 500 career points.
Huddersfield boss Rick Stone said: “It was a tough, physical game and we showed some good resilience.
“We had most of the play in the first half, while in the second we had to defend a little more and found ourselves coming more off our own line.
“Our kicking wasn’t at its best and we probably needed a bit more patience but we decided we wanted to play tough, defend well and we did that okay."
Leigh coach Neil Jukes said: “I thought we turned up for one another and had a real dig but there were just too many silly scenarios which kept putting unforced pressure on ourselves.
“While the scoreline doesn’t look great, to do the amount of defending we did shows that there’s still a good work ethic within them but regarding smartness we probably get one out of 10.”