The Huddersfield Giants entered round five still seeking their first league points of the season as they encountered a Leeds Rhinos side who are struggling themselves and currently at the wrong end of the table.
The Rhinos had lost Richie Myler (suspended) and Kyle Eastmond (hamstring) after last week’s defeat but did welcome back Liam Sutcliffe who would pair up with Kruise Leeming in the halves. The Giants were fancied by the bookies but without the services of Ashton Golding, and both Joe and Jake Wardle.
The Rhinos had a six-point start on the coupon; it was Ian Watson’s ideal opportunity for his first points as coach.
It was a poor opening from both sides with the Giants coming closest to scoring after Jack Broadbent lost the ball and Sezer picked up the spoils to race in at the corner, but the referee brought play back for a Leeds penalty. The Rhinos used the gift to work downfield but Kruise Leeming spilled the ball on the Giants ten.
Alex Mellor was held short of the line on fifteen and two plays later Bodene Thompson smashed his way over the line for the opening points of the game. Liam Sutclliffe, with Rhyse Martin on the bench, was unable to add a relatively simple conversion.
The Rhinos were riding their luck but still had the upper in a game full of errors from both sides. On the half hour Aidan Sezer broke through the Leeds line to score next to the uprights, adding a conversion to his own try the home side went into a 6-4 lead with nine minutes left on the first half clock.
The Rhinos ended the first half dropping out from their own line and the Giants went into the interval with a 6-4 lead.
Seconds after the restart Sezer was in again after Lee Gaskell broke the Leeds line and found his half-back on his shoulder to take the pass and run in. Sezer couldn’t add the extra two points but with a 10-4 lead there was daylight between the sides.
A Sezer penalty on forty-five further increased the lead, the Rhinos having the worst of start to the second forty.
Adam O’Brien scooted from acting half-back to score on fifty-five, but Kenny Edwards was holding Kruise Leeming back and preventing him from tackling. The try was turned down by and the referee gave the captains a lecture as the temperature warmed up.
When Ricky Leutele broke the Leeds line on fifty-seven, he offloaded to Luke Yates who went for the line but lost the ball as he went to score, the Rhinos breathed again but were holding on by a thread. Leeds went straight down the other end of the field when Sutcliffe bust the Giants line and found Ash Handley in support to sprint in for the second Rhinos try. Martin took the conversion and gathered in the extra two points.
Leeds were awarded a penalty from forty metres just after the hour mark and when Martin smacked the ball between the uprights the scores were all square, the Rhinos with the momentum.
Liam Sutcliffe pushed a drop goal attempt wide of the uprights when it was easier to score with fifteen remaining, Leeds panicking on the last tackle.
Josh Jones had a try ruled out for the Giants with nine minutes remaining, after the kick chasers were deemed offside.
On seventy-two Sutcliffe missed another drop goal attempt as the Rhinos failed to take advantage of the Giants error. As the Giants worked their way downfield it was Sezer’s turn to miss a drop goal attempt, stubbing the ball under the crossbar as Leeds applied the pressure.
There were six minutes on the clock when Sutcliffe attempted his third drop goal, this one bouncing off the crossbar and going over for a one-pointer. The Giants responded immediately as Sezer made sure, smacking a drop goal between the uprights with five minutes remaining.
Dwyer went close on seventy-seven and when the Rhinos moved the ball back to Sutcliffe, he missed a third drop goal attempt, skewing it wide of the sticks from under the shadow of the posts with three minutes remaining.
The Giants sealed the win on the hooter when Gaskell kicked a thirty-five-metre drop goal to take the points and get Huddersfield off the mark. It was a poor game between two sides who really haven’t clicked so far this season and both of which have a mountain to climb to be challengers in 2021.
Huddersfield Giants: Gaskell (DG), McGillvary, McQueen, Leutele, McIntosh, Cogger, Sezer (2T, 2G, DG), Yates, Cunningham, Gavet, Edwards, Jones, Greenwood. Subs: English, Lawrence, Wood, O’Brien.
Leeds Rhinos: Broadbent, Handley (T), Hurrell, Mellor, Briscoe T, Leeming, Sutcliffe L (DG), Oledzki, Dwyer, Prior, Walters, Thompson (T), O’Connor. Subs: Donaldson, Vuniyayawa, Martin (2G), Briscoe L.
Referee: Liam Moore.
Score Progression: 0-4, 4-4, 6-4 : HT : 10-4, 12-4, 12-8, 12-10, 12-12, 12-13, 13-13, 14-13 : FT.