Huddersfield Giants made it six wins in eight games at Headingley Stadium as they beat a struggling Leeds Rhinos outfit.
Huddersfield opened the scoring after nine minutes, making the most of some good fortune after a kick on the last tackle ricocheted back into the arms of a Giants player, and one pass allowed Kruise Leeming to go over for an easy try.
Their lead didn’t last long, though, as Leeds scored two quick-fire tries to take the lead. Matt Parcell scored his side’s first try of the night when he forced his way over from dummy half despite the attention of three defenders, and just minutes later Richie Myler collected a kick inside to finish off a flowing move down the right hand side to touch down.
Ash Handley had a chance to extend the lead but knocked on when he would have been in the clear, and Leeds were made to pay shortly after when Aaron Murphy ran onto a short pass at speed close to the line and couldn’t be stopped from scoring his third try of the season. Oliver Russell’s conversion levelled the scores at 12-12 after half an hour.
With half time approaching, Huddersfield hit the front for a second time through a try from Alex Mellor. Jack Walker made a tackle to prevent a try but the Leeds defence couldn’t regroup quick enough and Huddersfield kept the ball moving before Mellor went over in front of the travelling fans.
Play was halted for several minutes before the break when a clash of heads left Mikolaj Oledzki requiring a stretcher in order to leave the field. Stevie Ward also had to go off for a head injury assessment which he passed so was able to retake his place in the game.
The back and forth nature of the game continued in the second half as both teams scored within five minutes of the restart.
Leeds scored through Cameron Smith after a mistake from fullback Jordan Rankin before Lilley’s kick made it 18-18, but the Giants responded by marching down to the other end of the field and found a way over through Adam O’Brien who scooted over.
No more tries were scored after that point, although that’s not to say there weren’t chances for the hosts, who were wasteful when close to the Huddersfield line with errors stopping them from creating any serious openings.
The Rhinos were let off the hook when Russell missed a penalty goal attempt with around 15 minutes to go. However the youngster made up for that when he kicked a drop goal to secure the win for the Giants and take them to within two points of the Rhinos on the league table.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Huddersfield resurgence goes on
The win was Huddersfield’s fourth consecutive win in Super League as they continued their recovery from their slow start to the season.
Simon Woolford’s men stayed positive when Leeds took the lead in the first half, and deserved the win judging by the balance of play from that point.
Without being great, they did what they had to and showed glimpses of what they could become further down the line under the guidance of their new coach.
More injuries for Leeds
Leeds’ bad luck with injuries of late continued as they lost three more players and are likely be without them for next week’s clash with table toppers St. Helens.
Mikolaj Oledzki had to be carried from the field, while Richie Myler was also forced off with a head knock and wasn’t able to return. Jordan Lilley had to be helped from the field with what looked like a potentially serious injury, and Brett Delaney was hobbling at stages too.
Without a number of key players, performance and results have suffered and the pressure is on the Rhinos to start grinding out results out if they are to secure a place in the top 8 come the end of the regular rounds.
Man Of The Match- Oliver Russell (Huddersfield Giants)
Playing in his first Super League away game and in place of the suspended Danny Brough, Oliver Russell showed no signs of buckling under the pressure as he played a key part in Huddersfield’s win.
The academy product kicked four of his five attempts at goal and made easy work of slotting over the drop goal that sealed the victory, repaying the faith that was shown in him by the coaches.
Leeds clearly saw him as a weakness in defence and targeted him, a tactic which worked a couple of times, but he soon adjusted and played his part in a good defensive effort as the Giants comfortably saw the game out in the end.
Leeds Rhinos 18
Tries: Parcell, Myler, Smith
Goals: Lilley 3
Drop Goals: n/a.
Huddersfield Giants 25
Tries: Leeming, Murphy, Mellor, O’Brien
Goals: Russell 4
Drop Goals: Russell
Leeds Rhinos: Walker, Briscoe, Sutcliffe, Handley, Hall, Lilley, Myler, Oledzki, Parcell, Cuthbertson, Ferres, Ward, Walters.
Replacements: Delaney, Garbutt, Smith, Golding.
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, McIntosh, Turner, Russell, Lawrence, Leeming, Clough, Mellor, Murphy, Hinchcliffe.
Replacements: Ikahihifo, Smith, O’Brien, English.
Referee: Liam Moore.
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