A Sunday afternoon clash at the John Smith’s Stadium saw the Huddersfield Giants looking for a crucial two points to keep their slim hopes of a play off place alive as they faced a hot and cold a Leeds Rhinos side who themselves are looking increasingly unlikely to make the top six.
The bookies were struggling to make a call on the likely winners as both sides sat at the bar and were poured a drink in the last chance saloon. A good following from Leeds packed into the away end to give their side a lift.
Leeds had the upper hand in the opening exchanges but after a penalty of a ball steal the Giants moved the ball wide and Sam Halsall was on hand to take them ball and score in the corner. Olly Russell slotted the conversion between the sticks for a 6-0.
There was a long delay on fourteen minutes when James Bentley was stretchered off and straight into an ambulance, the players keeping themselves warm while he received treatment.
Within a minute of the restart Kevin Naiqama stretched for the line from under a three man Leeds tackle to ground. Despite the protests of the Leeds players referee Griffiths awarded the try. Russell was on target again for 12-0.
On twenty-two a Giants kick caused confusion in the Leeds defence. Rui Lolohea was the first to react to the loose ball and touched down for a 16-0 lead, Russell failing with the kick.
Four minutes later and Naiqama went close again but knocked on over the line, the Giants were dominating.
Just after the half hour mark the Rhinos grabbed an important try with a nice passing move on the last tackle. A switch pass inside from Walters found Holley to go through a gap to score by the posts. Martin added the conversion, Leeds trailing by six.
Huddersfield’s Sam Hewitt was sin-binned on thirty-eight for preventing a restart and Leeds took full advantage with a move down the left wing with Sam Lisone passing inside to Ash Handley to score. Martin was on target again with the boot and the sides went into the sheds with just four points separating them.
There was near deadlock throughout the first thirty minutes of the second half with just a Giants penalty on fifty-one after Leeds were offside.
Five minutes from the end of the game Jake Connor kicked a thirty metre drop goal and Leeds heads dropped as the game had escaped them. Russell added another penalty on seventy eight after the Rhinos were penalised for shepherding, the final score being 21-12 in favour of the home side.
This was a poor game between two poor sides on the outside periphery of the play off battle which neither are likely to make. The sides are now both on twenty points, four off the bottom play off spot with four games remaining.
Huddersfield Giants: Connor, Marsters, Bibby, Naiqama (T), Halsall (T), Lolohea (T), Russell (4G), Hill, Milner, Ashworth, Cudjoe, McQueen, Yates. Subs: Pryce, Ikahihifo, Greenwood, Hewitt. 18th Man: Wilson.
Leeds Rhinos: Hooley (T), Olpherts, Roberts, Newman, Handley (T), Martin (2G), Sever, Oledzki, O’Connor, Holroyd, Bentley, Walters, Smith. Subs: Donaldson, Lisone, Gannon, Ruan. 18th Man: Tindall.
Scoreline Advance: 4-0, 6-0, 10-0, 12-0, 16-0, 16-4, 16-6, 16-10, 16-12 : HT: 18-12, 19-12, 21-12 : FT.
Lead Exchanges: Huddersfield.
Referee: Marcus Griffith.