Kurt Haggerty is desperate to end a tough and testing season on a positive note when relegated Leigh Centurions head to Huddersfield Giants on Sunday.
The interim head coach went into the home clash with Wakefield Trinity disappointed by his side’s Magic Weekend defeat against Hull KR and seeking only a second win since he was promoted after the departure in early June of John Duffy, to whom he was assistant.
And his side delivered a 26-18 win for only their second victory of the season, with Ryan Brierley scoring a hat-trick of tries.
Haggerty inherited a side that at the time had lost all eight Super League games as well as a Challenge Cup third-round tie at home to Huddersfield, who were 36-18 victors.
The Giants were 44-6 league winners at Leigh Sports Village in May in Duffy’s penultimate match at the helm.
The Centurions, who won a bidding process to take the top-flight place vacated by Toronto Wolfpack, hoped the change in team leadership would spark an upturn in results, and that they could avoid a third single-season stay in Super League, the others being in 2005 and 2017.
But the 44-6 defeat by Hull KR in the final Magic match at St James’ Park was an eleventh defeat in twelve matches under Haggerty’s command, the exception being the 32-22 home win over Salford Red Devils on August 22.
“Magic Weekend was a big disappointment,” said the 32-year-old former Leigh forward, whose charges had pushed Hull KR much closer in early August, when they suffered a 34-28 home loss.
“We started well but to fall away like we did after the break (when Rovers had come from behind to lead 10-6) was poor.
“We are just not up to it and haven’t been up to it all year. Especially in second halves, we fall away. We just can’t seem to stop the rot once it starts.
“Ultimately we haven’t performed enough as a group to stay up, but we want to give our fans something to cheer about in our final game.”
And the Leigh fans responded on Sunday, raising the roof at the Leigh Sports Village as the Centurions came from a 10-18 half-time deficit to score 16 unanswered points in the second half.
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