Ryan Hall scored a hat-trick of tries and Kane Linnett two as Rovers dominated the league’s bottom side in the second half after leading 18-12 at the break.
There were also tries from Greg Minikin, Rowan Milnes and Dean Hadley. Jordan Abdull kicking four conversions. Ben Hellewell (2) and Ryan Brierley touched down for the visitors, with Ben Reynolds adding two conversions.
Close to 4,000 fans were in attendance, and Smith said: “The supporters have stuck by us. I’m delighted and it was nice for the players to get their appreciation of what we did today.”
Smith praised his side for the way they started the game and also how they coped with Leigh’s response.
“The start was very good,” he said. “To let some of that advantage we got in the early stages of the match, scoring three tries then letting two in, sort of undid some of our good work.
“I thought the second half (we had) a lot better control of the game and (were) a little bit more fluid.”
Smith highlighted the danger posed by wing Hall, who took his try tally for the season to 10.
“I told him at the start of the year he would score a number of tries for us,” he said.
Captain Shaun Kenny-Dowall also received plaudits from his coach, who said: “Our skipper was great today. He led the way and showed a lot of character. He took some of those tough carries for us.”
Smith said the win “helps our mood around the place”, with Salford next up.
“Our next 12 days ahead of us can be very positive ones,” he added.
“I will make special mention of Dean Hadley as well. He wore a mask that the physio made up. He’s got a nasty facial wound.
“It was never in doubt that he would play. He puts the team and the club first. I thought he was terrific too, I thought he played really well.”
Linnett opened the scoring for the home side with three minutes gone following some sustained pressure as he exploited a hole in the visitors’ defence after Abdull had kept the move alive but his first kick then came back off the left post.
Adam Quinlan was held up on the fifth tackle but a second Rovers try soon followed as Hall had an easy touch down as a grubber kick from Abdull ran loose to the corner.
But Leigh struck back with a Hellewell try and Ben Reynolds converted to make it 8-6.
Reynolds dropped the kick-off and Rovers made him pay with try number three from Greg Minikin but Abdull missed a third conversion.
Lewis Tierney and Ryan Brierley combined with the latter crossing as Leigh hit back again and Reynolds’s kick squared the game at 12-12.
Rovers got their fourth try after Matt Parcell stripped the ball and Abdull set up Linnett for his second score and this time Abdull converted.
Leigh started the second half strongly but Rovers were able to keep them at bay and when the visitors were penalised twice in quick succession, Rovers grabbed try number five.
Another grubber kick from Abdull saw the ball skim the post and Rowan Milnes gathered before scoring his first Super League try. Abdull’s extras made it 24-12 with 13 minutes of the second half gone.
Leigh’s next two possessions broke down as Matty Storton and then Brad Takairangi stripped the ball close to their own line.
Rovers scored try number six through Dean Hadley who stretched from the tackle to touch down after 65 minutes and Abdull’s third successful kick put the home side 30-12 in front.
As Leigh continued to wilt in the sun, Hall had a simple score in the left corner from Hadley’s pass and Abdull’s kick made it 36-12.
Hellewell stretched to score his second and Leigh’s third try and their first score of the second half with 10 minutes left.
Hall’s third try came courtesy of a flicked pass from Milnes to make the final score 40-16 to the home side.
Hull K R: Quinlan, Minikin, Linnett, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Milnes, Abdull, Lawler, Parcell, Maher, Takairangi, Johnson, Hadley. Substitutes: Sims, Litten, Storton, Keinhorst.
Leigh: Brierley, Tierney, Sa’u, Thornley, Gelling, Ellis, Reynolds, Ioane, Hood, McCarthy, Hellewell, Thompson, Bell. Substitutes: Wildie, Gee, Elliot, Peats.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (RFL).
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