Tries from Ash Handley, James McDonnell, Rhyse Martin and Cameron Smith, plus a Martin conversion gave Leeds Rhinos the one-point Super League victory; Huddersfield Giants got points on the board through Jermaine McGillvary, and Chris McQueen, plus a drop goal from Jake Connor
Last Updated: 09/04/23 8:28pm
Three tries from the Leeds Rhinos in the second half, plus a Rhyse Martin conversion, saw them seal a dramatic 18-17 Super League victory over Huddersfield Giants at Headingley Stadium.
It was the Giants who got the quicker start as they scored two tries in the opening eight minutes, Jermaine McGillvary and Chris McQueen going over to score.
After losing Richie Myler to a sin-binning for a high shot, Leeds regrouped and hit back through Ash Handley with eight minutes remaining, but a 40th-minute drop goal by Jake Connor gave the Giants a 13-4 lead at the break.
The Rhinos started the second half strongly and made it count, tries from James McDonnell, Rhyse Martin and Cameron Smith, plus a conversion from Martin, putting them in front, and they held on to seal a tight 18-17 win, Connor and Tuimoala Lolohea unable to find the point for the Giants to bring the scores level.
Story of the game
The Giants came out firing, McGillvary diving over in the corner for their first try as Connor’s kick rebounded back for Lolohea to put the winger in.
The second try came as Will Pryce earned a penalty off the high shot, Chris Hill sending McQueen over the line with a nice short pass and Connor converting to make it 10-0.
The afternoon got worse for Leeds when Myler was sent to the sin-bin in the 15th minute for a high shot on McGillvary, with Connor then kicking a penalty to increase Huddersfield’s lead to two converted tries in the 23rd minute after Leeds were caught offside.
Leeds had back-to-back penalties to try and build some pressure and finally made it count in the 32nd minute as they sent it through hands on the last tackle to Handley, who dived over in the corner to bring the score to 12-4.
With seconds remaining of the first half as Huddersfield searched right on the Rhinos’ line, Connor added the drop goal to give the Giants a 13-4 advantage at the break.
Leeds came out in the second half with intent and made it count after seven minutes of the second half as they searched for a gap through hands, which McDonnell found to bring the score to 13-8.
Leeds Rhinos: Tries: Ash Handley (32), James McDonnell (47), Rhyse Martin (54), Cameron Smith (59) Conversions: Rhyse Martin (60)
Huddersfield Giants: Tries: Jermaine McGillvary (4), Chris McQueen (8) Conversions: Jake Connor (9, 23) Dropgoal: Jake Connor (40)
Just 10 minutes later they got themselves back within a point as Newman found a beautiful break downfield, before Martin was set up to go over in the corner.
With the pressure mounting on Huddersfield, the hosts made it count as Austin’s high kick defied everyone, allowing Smith to pounce on it in the 59th minute to put the Rhinos in front, Martin adding his first extras of the night to bring the score to 18-13.
However, Huddersfield were not done yet as Lolohea broke downfield and Leeds were unable to reset, Connor sending the grubber through on the last for McQueen to pounce on with just over 10 minutes remaining. However, Connor could not add the conversion and Huddersfield remained a point adrift.
Despite bringing themselves back into the game, the Giants were unable to find a clinical finish to bring the scores level, a poor Connor kick plus a missed drop goal attempt from Lolohea ending Huddersfield’s chances of gaining the win and gifting Leeds the 18-17 victory.
What they said
Leeds Rhinos head coach Rohan Smith:
“I thought our intent at the start was good. We needed to be better to solve some of the problems but the momentum of the game was influenced.
“But I am happy because we played well enough to win today. You don’t like to go down to 12 men in that situation but we overcame it. I have got a lot of belief in these guys.”
Huddersfield Giants head coach Ian Watson:
“It was a tough loss. It was a tough game, either side could have gone on to win it. I thought it was a real good game and a real tough one.
“Second half they probably started the better team and we started to wilt a little bit. We know where we are and we are comfortable where we are, we knew we were going to have to build this year.”
Leeds Rhinos welcome struggling Hull FC on Friday April 14, with kick-off at 8pm. For the Huddersfield Giants, they welcome the in-form Catalans Dragons, also on Friday April 14, with kick-off at 7.45pm.