Leeming shines but Giants allow Wolves to close gap

TEENAGER Kruise Leeming capped an impressive Huddersfield debut with a try – but it was a rare highlight as the Giants saw their Super League title hopes exposed.

Six tries from Warrington saw Paul Anderson’s second-placed Giants side lose ground on leaders Wigan, and allowed the Wolves to close the gap in third.

But despite defeat, it proved to be a memorable afternoon for 17-year-old Leeming, a product of the amateur club Siddal.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The Swaziland-born hooker – who signed a three-year professional contract in March – was introduced in the second-half for his Giants Super League debut and he swiftly made an impact, grabbing a try.

He then stood up to some fierce Warrington attacks to prove his strength in adversity, and deserved his late re-appearance to give the home fans in the 8,585 crowd something to cheer about.

“Our plan was never to push him that far, but he’s made a dream start,” said Anderson.

“If there’s one positive we can take from this game it’s that Kruise is off his ‘nudey’.

“The scoreline was a fair reflection of the game.

“We failed to come up with the answers, and that’s a rarity, though we can’t dwell on it too much as we have a game on Saturday.”

That match sees Leeds Rhinos travel to Huddersfield in the Challenge Cup, and the hosts will need to deliver an improved performance to keep their Wembley dreams alive.

This game was never likely to match the drama and tension of 24 hours earlier, when the Town’s football team and Barnsley played out a jittery Championship relegation battle.

But the Giants had the John Smith’s Stadium crowd on their feet in the opening minutes, Craig Kopczak feeding Jermaine McGillvary, who found rare space down the right flank to stretch over for a try.

Brough, whose 40-20 kick had created field position, then slotted over the conversion but Huddersfield’s advantage was immediately wiped out as Micky Higham tunnelled over and Brett Hodgson converted.

It took a terrible mistake by Huddersfield’s Scott Grix to gift Warrington the lead, full-back Grix picking up a deep punt, but lost the ball in the tackle and Trent Waterhouse pounced to dive over the line.

Hodgson was unable to convert from far out on the left touchline, but he had no problem adding the extras to Waterhouse’s second try – which came following two penalties in dangerous areas – as Warrington opened up a 16-6 advantage after 25 minutes.

And it got even worse for the home side, perplexed at referee Ben Thaler failing to award a couple of forward pass appeals, when a piece of quick-thinking from Stefan Ratchford brought Warrington’s fourth try of the afternoon.

There seemed little on for the Wolves stand-off faced with a wall of Giants players, but he chipped over the top before racing through and collecting the loose ball from the grasp of the unlucky Grix to score. Hodgson converted.

Huddersfield needed a response, and they camped in Warrington’s half before the interval, applying pressure but just lacking the final pass to break the visitors down.

Tempers flared with a mass flare-up between all 26 players in front of the main stand, but no player was penalised after referee Thaler’s enquiries.

To cap a sorry 40 minutes for the Giants, Brough was sent to the sin bin for 10 minutes just before the hooter.

The 12 men of Huddersfield emerged unscathed from Brough’s time on the sidelines but the respite was only temporary, as Hodgson – the former Giants favourite – crashed over in the right-hand corner after slick passing down the Wolves line. The full-back converted his own try to stretch Warrington’s lead to 28-6.

Leeming made his Giants debut from the bench in the second half, as Huddersfield desperately tried to claw their way back into the match.

And their efforts were finally rewarded when pressure on Warrington’s defence forced a mistake, and the youngster pounced for a debut try after good work from Luke Robinson. Brough converted for 28-12.

The teenager was having quite a baptism, twice in succession fronting up to Warrington’s traditional power plays.

He then made way for Shaun Lunt, but it was a memorable second-half cameo from the talented teenager.

Any hopes of a Giants comeback, however, were crushed when Warrington found a gap on the left-hand flank as Ryan Atkins breezed through for a Hodgson-converted try.

“It was a very good performance, our best of the season,” said Wolves coach Tony Smith.

“Huddersfield asked us a lot questions and I thought we answered them pretty well.

“We were especially good in defence.

“We’ve had a few lesser scores against us, but I thought our commitment to defending the line today was outstanding.

“Danny Brough kicked a 40-20 early on and then two plays down the line they scored.

“But after that I don’t think we were breached too many more times.”

Huddersfield Giants: Scott Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Murphy, Dawson, Brough, Robinson, Patrick, Lunt, Kopczak, Chan, Ferguson, Lawrence. Substitutes: Crabtree, Ta’ai, Mullally, Leeming.

Warrington Wolves: Hodgson, C Riley, Simon Grix, Atkins, Williams, Ratchford, Myler, Hill, Higham, Wood, Waterhouse, Westwood, Cooper. Substitutes: Carvell, Currie, Bridge, G Riley.

Referee: B Thaler (RFL).