Huddersfield 26-4 Leigh: Giants secure top-eight spot
Last Updated: 15/07/17 12:16am
Lee Gaskell scored twice as Huddersfield wrecked Micky Higham's 500th appearance celebrations while securing the Giants' Super League status with a 26-4 victory over Leigh.
Former St Helens, Wigan and Warrington international 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 fast-rising Giants, who had to stave off possible relegation through the Qualifiers last year, moved out of reach of chasing Warrington and went above Wigan with their fifth win in the last seven games.
Leigh are already certain to finish in the bottom two and to fight for their survival against the top Championship clubs. They are now struggling for momentum having lost their last four games.
The Yorkshire side, by contrast, have been defeated just once in their last seven games and had substitute Paul Clough reaching the landmark of 200 senior games.
The Lancastrians made three changes after the previous week's defeat at Warrington, including the return of former Great Britain forward Gareth Hock after two months out with knee injury.
Higham, also playing his 350th Super League game, made the first half-break after less than two minutes but it was the in-form Giants who went on to make most of the running in a penalty-ridden opening few moments.
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.
Cory Paterson was held up over the line just before the break but that was as close as Leigh came as the Giants went in 8-0 ahead.
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 pass 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.