Huddersfield Giants 40 Leeds Rhinos 18: Giants grateful to Cudjoe after flattering derby win

LEROY Cudjoe underlined his growing class with another majestic performance to help Huddersfield Giants return to winning ways but the title contenders were far from vintage.

Scott Grix completes the scoring for Huddersfield with a late try

Cudjoe had impressed for England against the Exiles and returned to his club yesterday to create one try for Luke Robinson and deliver another himself that finally ended depleted Leeds Rhinos’ hopes of an unlikely victory.

Hooker Shaun Lunt and Danny Brough proved similarly influential as second-placed Huddersfield duly responded after a disappointing loss at Hull KR more than a fortnight ago. Yet they were far from their fluent selves, a couple of late tries from Lunt and Scott Grix giving the scoreline a flattering look.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Appearing disjointed and with a series of wild and often unnecessary passes, Paul Anderson’s side did their utmost to encourage the champions who were missing 10 players through injury or suspension and soon lost another in Jamie Jones-Buchanan.

Coach Brian McDermott – who has dubbed his physio Andy Barker “The Prince of Darkness” – said afterwards that the England second-row could be looking at a lengthy lay-off after he limped away with a worrying knee problem in the 11th minute.

Strangely, the player who perhaps gained most credit out of this West Yorkshire derby was Liam Sutcliffe, the tall 18-year-old Leeds stand-off who followed up his first senior try in last Monday’s win over Widnes by scoring two more here while showing the sort of calm composure that Huddersfield so often lacked.

Anderson, however, was not too perturbed by his side’s mixed display on their return from the international break.

“We made things hard for ourselves at times and we didn’t match Leeds’ energy in the first quarter,” he said.

“We showed our class by overcoming that and still going in 
22-12 at half-time but we can’t rely on it.

“I summed it up to the boys by saying we’ve come up against a team who have a lot of people missing but they have been playing.

“We looked like a team that had had five days on the beach at Benidorm.

“We’ve had some holiday but we’ve got that rustiness out of us now. We’ve some cohesion things we need to fix up but that will come.

“I’m looking forward to Friday now and playing Catalan here as I know we can be better.”

Anderson’s side had established their 10-point interval lead despite creating very little pressure in their hosts’ 20.

It was Leeds who enjoyed the bulk of prime possession, forcing four drop-outs with Sutcliffe and Rob Burrow initially proving the more threatening half-backs.

However, Huddersfield were fairly clinical when it mattered most. They opened the scoring in the 11th minute, Brough bumping off some defenders in midfield before looping out a long ball to Cudjoe who made the break for Robinson to round off.

Sutcliffe quickly responded, though, as he dummied 10m out, twisted away from Larne Patrick and then proving too powerful for Grix.

Zak Hardaker kicked the first of his three conversions but Leeds were fortunate to see Cudjoe’s effort ruled out for offside after Ryan Hall had let Aaron Murphy’s hopeful high kick bounce in front of the posts.

Lunt did squeeze over from dummy-half in the 21st minute after good work initially from Brett Ferres.

Brough could not add the conversion but did do after Huddersfield went over again in the next set, Joe Wardle finding space down Leeds’ right side for Murphy to earn his 12th try of the season.

Leeds replied when Jimmy Keinhorst produced a classy flick pass – albeuit possibly forward – for Ben Jones-Bishop to dive over in the 32nd minute. But, after Dale Ferguson was held up, Brough’s well-timed short delivery saw Ferres go over untouched.

Huddersfield’s erratic and frustrating football continued at the start of the second period, though, and so they were thankful for Cudjoe’s finish, following more clever play from Lunt, just after the hour mark to ease lingering tension.

The hosts made it hard for themselves again by being reduced to 12 men, Grix yellow carded for holding down Thomas Minns after the Huddersfield full-back had spilled a kick.

Soon after, Leeds duly scored when Sutcliffe supported Mitch Achurch’s break, Burrow providing the link, but Brough’s running game came to the fore late on to help provide further efforts for Lunt and Grix.

McDermott, who says Kallum Watkins could make an early return from injury at Widnes next Sunday, said: “I thought the game might come down to a bit of a fatigue and it didn’t.

“It was concentration lapses near the try line. It wasn’t great play from Huddersfield, just some soft stuff from us and tries we could have defended.

“There was some pleasing stuff but ultimately we lost.”

Huddersfield Giants: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Robinson; Patrick, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Ta’ai, Lawrence. Substitutes: Crabtree, Faiumu, Cording, Ferguson.

Leeds Rhinos: Hardaker; Jones-Bishop, Keinhorst, Minns, Hall; Sutcliffe, Burrow; Moore, McShane, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett, Singleton. Substitutes: Kirke, Clarkson, Achurch, Baldwinson.

Referee: R Silverwood (Mirfield).