Huddersfield Giants hosted the in-form Leigh Leopards at the John Smith’s tonight in a game that truly tested the playoff potential of the visitors.
With three wins on the spin prior to tonight the Leopards had worked their way into the playoffs, a place that the home side haven’t been much all season and one they desperately want to be.
Ian Watson’s Giants entered tonight’s clash following losses to both of the Hull sides and both in shocking fashion, the loss first loss coming to a Hull FC side who were without a win in seven whereas the second came to in-form Hull KR but by a whopping 28-0 scoreline.
That meant tonight’s fixture was of huge importance for the Giants and Ian Watson shuffled the deck by removing one of the three full-backs that he’s used so far.
Will Pryce was the unlucky one of three to miss out with Tui Lolohea dropping to full-back and young Kieran Rush pairing Jake Connor in the halves.
𝙏𝙀𝘼𝙈 𝙉𝙀𝙒𝙎 🟠
Kieran Rush makes his first team debut, as Jake Bibby also returns on the wing. ⤵️#CowbellArmy🐮🔔 pic.twitter.com/N2pS4MJpiM
— Huddersfield Giants 🐮🔔 (@Giantsrl) May 12, 2023
As for Leigh they’d been unchanged of late due to their incredible form and once again Adrian Lam kept the faith with his team.
— Leigh Leopards (@LeighLeopardsRL) May 12, 2023
Lam was right to keep the faith in his side as they started the game at a rapid rate and found themselves leading within the 10 minute mark.
Ben Reynolds was the beneficiary of an Edwin Ipape break and Reynolds then converted his own try to make it 6-0 early on.
Huddersfield responded but the try was pulled back with Kevin Naiqama adjudged to have blocked Ricky Leutele rendering Bibby’s try void.
The Giants threatened again when they forced a goal line drop-out but it was wasted when Lolohea kicked out on the full.
Leigh weren’t as wasteful and it was that man again Josh Charnley who scored his 13th of the season just after the half-hour mark to double Leigh’s lead.
The score remained 12-0 heading into the break during which Ian Watson will have demanded a response from his side otherwise they’d slip to a third straight defeat.
Charnley scored once again after the break to extend the lead to 18-0, Ben Reynolds continuing his perfect kicking record.
Reynolds would get another chance to convert when he added the extras after Lachlan Lam crossed over. The PNG playmaker slid in on the hour mark to effectively kill off the game as it extended to 24-0.
Leigh weren’t finished though and continued their demolition of the Giants with Joe Mellor getting the fifth of the night, and once again Reynolds adding the extras.
One thing that would ruin a result as brilliant as this for Adrian Lam’s side would that young Ben Nakubuwai hobbled off, after having only been reintroduced to the squad last week against Castleford.
The inability to keep a clean sheet would also irritate Lam given how close the Leopards got with Huddersfield putting points on the board in the 78th minute through Kevin Naiqama.
It was merely a consolation for Huddersfield though ensuring that they didn’t get nilled on a night that was all Leigh and truly cemented their credentials as playoff candidates.