Leeds 18 Huddersfield 25: Pressure mounts on Rhinos as Giants triumph

Huddersfield Giants produced a determined performance at Headingley last night to give Simon Woolford his first win as coach.
Jermaine McGillvary holds off Matt Parcell.Jermaine McGillvary holds off Matt Parcell.
Jermaine McGillvary holds off Matt Parcell.

Even without Danny Brough and Jake Mamo, Giants were too good for an injury-hit Leeds Rhinos side who have now lost four successive league games.

Giants scored four tries to three and their 25-18 win was sealed by a late drop goal from rookie half-back Oliver Russell, who made a good impression standing in for Brough.

Woolford said: “It feels really good.

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“I’d have liked it to have been a bit easier. We kept giving Leeds a bit of a sniff, but kept turning up for each other defensively and were good enough to get the win.

“There’s plenty of things we need to improve, but as long as we keep turning up for each other like that in defence there’ll be more wins to come.”

To make a bad situation worse for Leeds, they picked up yet more injuries, including one to yet another front-rower.

Nineteen-year-old Mikolaj Oledzki was hurt just before the break in a clash of heads with Stevie Ward. The skipper eventually managed to get up and walk off for a concussion test, but Oledzki needed treatment for 13 minutes before being taken from the field on a stretcher.

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The news from the medical area was that he was conscious and talking at half-time. Ward, remarkably, returned for the start of the second half.

Richie Myler took a bang to the head in the second half and was the third Rhinos player to need a head test. He did not come back on. Then in the final moments Jordan Lilley hobbled off. With Brett Ferres in the sin-bin and no substitutes left, Rhinos finished with 11 players.

Rhinos have been starting poorly all season, and this was the fourth successive game – and seventh in the last eight – they have conceded the opening score.

After seven minutes Jordan Turner’s grubber was picked up by Alex Mellor and he sent Kruise Leeming over.

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Young half-back Russell added the extras, but Leeds responded quickly. A penalty took them into Giants territory and Matt Parcell scooted over from acting-half, Lilley’s goal levelling the scores.

That was on 11 minutes and Leeds were in front five later. Mitch Garbutt announced his return with a strong run and then a nice offload from Adam Cuthbertson sent Ward dashing clear.

He had Liam Sutcliffe on his right shoulder and the centre kicked infield for Myler, who picked up and went between the posts to give Lilley an easy kick.

Leeds had a chance of a third try when Jack Walker picked up a kick near his own line and fed Parcell, who burst past the first defender and into space. Ash Handley was in support, but when the pass came he could not hang on.

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Walker picked up a knock in the first half. He played on, but was replaced early in the second period by Ashton Golding, though he returned after Myler was hurt.

Russell is a promising talent and his pass sent Aaron Murphy over on 30 minutes, the half-back adding the extras to equalise at 12-12.

And Huddersfield were ahead by the break. Walker stood his ground to make a tremendous try-saving tackle on Matty English, but Giants moved the ball wide and Alex Mellor, who had a fine game, stepped through for the visitors’ third converted try.

Rhinos got off to a perfect start with a try a minute into the second period. Lilley’s high kick found Cameron Smith and he gathered to cross for his second try in as many games.

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Lilley booted the extras to make it all square, but not for long. Leeds were caught offside and Adam O’Brien nipped over, Russell maintaining his 100 per cent conversion rate.

Russell had the chance to open a two-score gap on the hour, but his penalty attempt was off-target.

In the set from the re-start Ryan Hinchcliffe got over the line after some quick handling, but he was held up.

Seven minutes from time a foul by Handley sparked a skirmish which resulted in yellow cards for Ferres – his second in successive games – and Jermaine McGillvary. Seconds after that, with six minutes left, Russell had a drop kick charged down, but Leeds failed to pick the ball up and the scrum-half landed a one-pointer in the next set to put the game out of Rhinos’ reach.

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Leeds: Walker, Briscoe, L. Sutcliffe, Handley, Hall, Lilley, Myler, Cuthbertson, Parcell, Oledzki, Ferres, Ward, Walters. Substitutes: Delaney, Smith, Garbutt, Golding.

Huddersfield: Rankin, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, McIntosh, Turner, Russell, Lawrence, Leeming, Clough, Mellor, Murphy, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Ikahihifo, Smith, O’Brien, English.

Referee: Liam Moore (RFL).