Leeds Rhinos 8-32 Huddersfield
On a cold and drizzly Friday night at Headingley, Leeds Rhinos were given a real lesson in managing the conditions by Paul Anderson’s Huddersfield side. A strong defence and an astute tactical kicking game from the Giants stand-off, Danny Brough, meant that the Rhinos really struggled to make any kind of an impact on the game.
It became clear in the game’s initial exchanges that it would be a result decided upon who could better care of the ball, as the greasy surface led to knock-on after knock-on. Unsurprisingly it was a handling error that led to the first score, Joe Vickery running back towards his own tryline to unsuccessfully field a kick which spilled into the hands of the swooping Joe Wardle.
The Giants continued to have success with kicks in behind the Rhinos defence, adding a second try when a diagonal Danny Brough grubber kick found the unopposed Aaron Murphy in the corner. A second missed conversion by Brough gave Leeds a way back into the match but consistent handling errors in attack meant that they were forced to enter the half-time break at 8-2, with only a Kevin Sinfield penalty to their name.
Huddersfield started the second half with a carbon copy of their second try, Brough again stabbing the ball through to Aaron Murphy in the corner. The Rhinos seemed to have no answer to the Giants kicking game, successive grubbers from Huddersfield allowing them in behind the Leeds defence and creating a try for Scott Grix under the posts, stretching their lead to 2-20. When Huddersfield ran through a Brett Delaney shaped hole in the Leeds defence the result seemed beyond doubt, Danny Brough rounding off a wonderful solo display with a try of his own.
When Leeds did have possession their play was aimless and error-filled, unable to mirror the tactical kicking game of their opponents. Paul McShane darted over from close range to give Leeds their only try but it was, quite rightly, Huddersfield that had the last word. Danny Brough was at the heart of the Giants attack once again, spinning out of some weak tackling to offload to the colossal frame of Eorl Crabtree who would not be denied. The final score of 8-32 was a fair reflection of a dominant performance by the top team in the Super League and raised some important strategic questions of last year’s champions Leeds.