Leeds Rhinos 20-20 Huddersfield Giants: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

That’s why they call it Rivals Round! Because of games like this. Leeds had the game won at 20-10 with two minutes left but an unthinkable comeback saw Huddersfield level the game in the last second. Neither side could win it in golden point with the sides succumbing to the first draw at Headingley since 2018.

Highlights:

Rhinos scramble defence denies fluid Huddersfield
In the first half Huddersfield conjured up some of the best set plays you will see in Super League but only one led to a try with a bullet pass from Tui Lolohea putting in Jermaine McGillvary for the opener. However, the Giants attack should’ve yielded more than four points in the first 40 but some sublime cover from the Rhinos denied them including one moment from Alex Mellor down the South Stand side playing out of position at centre. Jamie Jones-Buchanan may be an inexperienced coach but he has the Rhinos battling for everything in defence. It was this defence that kept Leeds ahead until the very last play of the game. Unfortunately for Leeds they couldn’t keep that defensive effort up.

Austin short ball unlocks Huddersfield defence
Leeds have struggled for points this season and went into the game on the back of being nilled by St Helens and with no Aidan Sezer it was up to Blake Austin to organise the Rhinos. He did his job subtly well not running as much as you might expect from him but we were reminded of his skill when he unlocked the Giants defence with a short ball allowing Rhyse Martin to score a lovely try to make it 10-4.

Magic comeback from Giants with touch of controversy
With two minutes left the game was won. Leeds had their second win of the season until they didn’t. Huddersfield hit Leeds with back to back tries. The first was hugely controversial as it appeared to come from a forward pass in the eyes of the South Stand furious. The second was sublime rugby as they spread it wide with Innes Senior diving over. Former Rhino and the man Ian Watson described as the league’s best fullback Lolohea had a chance to win it with the kick, missed and sent the game to golden point.

Talking Points:

1. Mr versatile
Despite wearing the number four shirt, Liam Sutcliffe played two positions tonight neither of which were centre as he started and scored from six before having to move to fullback due to Jack Walker’s injury. No doubt frustrating for Walker and Leeds fans who have hoped to see Walker and Richie Myler bring the best out of each other vying for the number one shirt only for then to both struggle with injuries, but a reminder of the underrated value of Sutcliffe and his ability to play a number of positions. Credit Alex Mellor too who did a solid job at centre.

2. Rhinos pack proves a point
Leeds’ middles have coped some unfair criticism this year. They’ve made metres all season even against Champions St Helens but still, with Leeds losing so many games they’ve not been safe from criticism but against an inform Huddersfield pack who recently out muscled Catalans, the Leeds middles stood up with some gutsy runs, explosive half breaks and some crunching tackles to match and even better their Huddersfield counterparts led by Chris Hill in his 500th appearance and the in form Luke Yates. It was exactly what Leeds needed as they looked to get back to winning ways and they’ll need it again against Cas on Monday.

3. Handley stars without scoring
It’s rare for a winger to be regarded as the best player on the pitch when they’ve not scored but Leeds’ vice-captain was. He made endless metres at the start of some tough sets and made some decisive breaks. He deserved to win.

4. Huddersfield heroics
Huddersfield were well below the standards they set for themselves and will need to be much better against St Helens but they showed the never die attitude that is the hallmark of a team aiming for silverware. Their two tries in two minutes is one of the best in Super League and saw them avenge the 20-point comeback Leeds conjured up against then in 2020. However, they couldn’t win it and will find it hard to recover in time for the Champions on Monday.

5. Positive for Leeds or a kick in the teeth
At 20-10 Leeds had the game won on the back of a solid performance but the Giants magic at the end saw them robbed of a point. Will the performance and a point be enough to get them back on the right track or will the pain send them on another spiral.

Player Ratings:

Leeds Rhinos
1 Jack Walker – N/A
29 Liam Tindall – 6
20 Tom Briscoe – 7
15 Alex Mellor – 6
5 Ash Handley – 9
6 Blake Austin – 7
4 Liam Sutcliffe – 8
8 Mikolaj Oledzki – 8
9 Kruise Leeming – 6
10 Matt Prior – 6
11 James Bentley – 8
12 Rhyse Martin – 8
17 Cameron Smith – 7
Substitutes
13 Zane Tetevano – 8
14 Brad Dwyer – 6
21 Morgan Gannon – 7
25 James Donaldson- 6

Huddersfield Giants
6 Tui Lolohea – 9
2 Jermaine McGillvary – 8
21 Leroy Cudjoe – 7
4 Ricky Leutele – 8
25 Innes Senior – 7
16 Jack Cogger – 6
7 Theo Fages – 6
8 Chris Hill – 7
9 Danny Levi – 7
17 Owen Trout – 8
11 Josh Jones – 8
12 Chris McQueen – 8
13 Luke Yates – 8
Substitutes
5 Ashton Golding – 6
14 Matty English – 6
15 Joe Greenwood – 6
20 Oliver Wilson – 6

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