The Qualifiers: Leigh Centurions 48-40 Huddersfield Giants

Leigh
Leigh have now won 18 successive matches
Qualifiers
Leigh Centurions (42) 48
Tries: Worthington, Dawson 3, Ridyard 2, Paterson, Brown Goals: Ridyard 8
Huddersfield Giants (10) 40
Tries: Lawrence, Murphy, Connor, Cudjoe 2, Ellis 2 Goals: Brough 6

Leigh secured promotion to the Super League following an 11-year absence after hanging on to beat Huddersfield.

They become the first Championship side to earn a place in English rugby league's top tier since the introduction of the Super 8s format.

Matty Dawson ran in a first-half hat-trick as Leigh led 42-10 at the break.

Mitch Brown grabbed Leigh's eighth try as they earned an 18th successive win, despite Giants scoring 30 unanswered points in a late fightback.

Defeat leaves Huddersfield third in the Qualifiers table, four points adrift of Leigh and Leeds and needing to win their remaining two matches to guarantee their Super League status.

Greg Worthington's first-minute try gave Leigh the ideal start and Dawson touched down twice, before the Giants responded through Michael Lawrence and Aaron Murphy.

Dawson then went on to complete his treble, Martyn Ridyard crossed for a brace on the way to contributing 24 points and Corey Paterson and Mitch Brown both grabbed tries.

Jake Connor came up with Huddersfield's third try with less than 30 minutes remaining to make the score 48-16.

Leroy Cudjoe and Jamie Ellis then grabbed two tries each as a Huddersfield side who won the Super League Leaders' Shield three years ago set up a tense finish against a Leigh team who have topped England's second-tier competition for the past three seasons.

The Centurions, relegated from the Super League 2005 after a solitary season that yielded just two wins, return to the top flight under Neil Jukes, who took charge of the side just 10 days before the season following head coach Paul Rowley's resignation because of personal reasons.

Matty Dawson scores for Leigh against Huddersfield
Matty Dawson joined Leigh from St Helens in July

Leigh captain Micky Higham:

"I'm still a bit emotional. It's right up there with all I've achieved in my career.

"I watched Leigh as a kid and to live the dream and captain my home-town team into Super League is a special moment. I am absolutely ecstatic."

Leigh head coach Neil Jukes:

"It's just brilliant - it's crazy, isn't it?

"Who would have said after five games we'd be up without having to go into the Million Pound Game.

"My last words before we went out, I told them it had to be their best game in a Leigh shirt and from one to 17 they did.

"In the second half, the momentum was always going to change, but what we got was the gutsiest performance we've ever had."

Huddersfield coach Rick Stone:

"After a performance like that, you've got to apologise to the supporters because that was totally unacceptable.

"At 42-10 down, you've got to ask yourself if you are really a Super League side.

"I told them at half-time we needed some reaction if they had some pride in what they do and we got that which gives us a little bit of something to take away from the game, because the way things were going was pretty scary to be honest.

"But you can't take too much away from the winners, they deserve the win and they deserve their elevation into Super League."

Leigh Centurions: McNally; Higson, Worthington, Brown, Dawson; Ridyard, Drinkwater; Hock, Higham, Weston, Maitua, Paterson, Tickle.

Replacements: Hood, Hansen, Hopkins, Dixon.

Huddersfield Giants: Connor; McGillvary, Cudjoe, J Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Ellis; Ikahihifo, Hinchcliffe, Huby, Ta'ai, Lawrence, Roberts.

Replacements: Leeming, Johnson, Rapira, Mason.

Attendance: 5,934.

Referee: Robert Hicks.

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