LEIGH look to the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup on Saturday for a chance to return to winning ways.
After five successive Betfred Super League defeats, including Easter Monday’s 24-10 home loss to Hull FC, Centurions tackle Championship leaders, Hull KR, Boss Neil Jukes admits Tim Sheens’ Rovers will be testing opponents but he has confidence in his squad and owner Derek Beaumont has faith in his head coach.
Writing in his programme notes before the Hull game Beaumont said: “He (Jukes) knows he is judged by the on field results, by fans and the media.
“But he is safe in the knowledge that I judge him on far more than that and I completely believe in him and his ability.
“Believe me when I tell you he is the right man for the job and irrespective of the results he has the surety that I am with him as one on his shoulder committed with whatever it takes.
“He has the trust and belief of the players and he will never give in on you so please don’t give in on him.”
Jukes knows there is definitely no need to panic but he is a realist.
“It will be a tough one,” he says of the fifth round tie against the Robins, beaten for the first time in 11 games against Toulouse on Monday.
“Hull KR left eight or nine boys behind while the rest went to Toulouse. They will be smelling a bit of blood and ear marking us (for a win).
“We are not a million miles off but we are getting found out. The lads are disappointed but I won’t let them feel sorry for themselves.
“There is no easy fix we have got to keep working hard. And it doesn’t happen overnight.
“I find myself watching lots of rugby for lots of different reasons. I watched 2014 footage in my down time and saw Catalans maul Castleford. And look where they are now. It’s all about progress and being patient.”
Hull, previously without a win in three games, led 18-0 at half-time thanks to three Marc Sneyd converted tries from: Liam Watts, Carlos Tuimavave, and Albert Kelly.
Sneyd’s kicks set-up two of the touchdowns that all came in the last 22 minutes.
Josh Drinkwater’s return from injury gave Centurions more potency going forward but Hull defence’s did well to keep out raids by Liam Hood, Dave Thompson and Ryan Hampshire.
And it was a much changed Leigh back line from the one that faced Salford with Thompson coming in for a debut on the wing, Ryan Hampshire replacing Adam Higson on the opposite flank and Matty Dawson switching to centre in place of concussed Mitch Brown.
Micky Higham’s hamstring injury soon after entering the fray as a first half substitute was another set-back Jukes could have done without.
So, the first score after the interval was always going to be crucial. And after brief Leigh pressure it was Hull through Tuimavave who broke away to add a fourth touch down.
Jez Litton and Liam Watts made the breaks and Tuimavave out paced FC old boy Ben Crooks on a 30-metres race to the line.
Hood deservedly registered Leigh’s first points after Hull conceded a sixth successive penalty. And Hampshire gave the home side a glimmer of hope with a 73rd minute try from Crooks’ offload.
But the damage had been done and Warrington’s win over Huddersfield dropped Leigh to 10th spot.
Leigh: McNally; Hampshire, Crooks, Dawson, Thompson; Reynolds, Drinkwater; Green, Hood, Hopkins, Vea, Stewart, Hansen; Substitutes: Higham, Weston, Tickle, Burr Tries: Hood (64), Hampshire (73) Goals: Reynolds (1).
Hull FC: Shaul; Fonua, Connor, Tuimavave, Michaels; Kelly, Sneyd; Taylor, Washbrook, Watts, Manu, Minichiello, Thompson; substitutes: Ellis, Turgut, Fash, Litten.
Tries: Watts (18), Tuimavave (22, 53), Kelly (28).
Goals: Sneyd (4).
Referee: Gareth Hewer.