The Huddersfield Giants arrived at Headingley still stunned and saddened after the sudden death yesterday of Jennifer Davy, the wife of Giants chairman Ken. As a tribute the Giants team wore warm up tops beating the initial 'JD', and black armbands throughout the game.
The Leeds Rhinos were seeking to return to top spot, two points clear of near neighbours Castleford Tigers ahead of their home game against the Wigan Warriors on Sunday. Huddersfield Giants had a chance of going tenth, jumping above Leigh Centurions.
Both sides made six changes from the sides who had mixed fortunes in last weekends Challenge Cup fixtures. The Rhinos were on the back of a big win over Doncaster on Friday night but the Giants crashed out against the Swinton Lions on Sunday.
Early signs from the Giants were good as they spent much of it camped in the Rhinos half. But it was the Rhinos who took the lead after thirteen when hooker Matt Parcell went from acting half back, threw the dummy, and dove over under the sticks. Kallum Watkins added the simple conversion to further frustrate the Giants.
The Giants struck back on nineteen with a delightful piece of skill when Jake Mamo picked up a Alex Mellor grubber, off his hip, to ground one-handed by the left upright. Danny Brough added the penalty to level the scores.
Both sides were giving away silly penalties and giving up possession very cheaply in what was turning into a scrappy game.
A Brough 40-20 moved the Giants downfield and three plays in Kruize Leeming found a hole in the Rhinos defence to go over from five metres. Brough goaled the conversion for 12-6.
The scores were level again on thirty-one when Stevie Ward bust the Giants line, found Jack Walker for a mini-break who then passed to Joel Moon off the defending Darnell McIntosh's thumb for the Rhinos scrum-half to cross. Watkins added the two to send the sides into the sheds all square.
On fifty-two the Rhinos seemed to have edged back in front after what looked like a superb Danny McGuire solo effort, but it was ruled out by the video referee for an obstruction. Two minutes later and it was double disaster for Leeds as the Giants scored when Dale Ferguson touched down a Mellor grubber just before the ball went dead in goal. Brough converted for 18-12.
On fifty-eight an Adam Cuthbertson knock-on gifted possession to the Giants, who gladly accepted the open invite to attack, and two passes later a Brough pass found McIntosh to run the angle and slide over. Brough converted from wide to double the lead.
The Rhinos upped the tempo but on sixty-seven a Danny Brough drop goal extended the Giants lead to 25-12.
On sixty-nine the Giants sealed the win when Ollie Roberts muscled his way over the line and on his back and grounded the ball over his left shoulder. Brough was again accurate with the boot for 31-12. There was no way back for the joint league-leaders.
This was a great confidence boosting win for the Giants who took the game to the Rhinos in attack, and thwarted them in defence. They outclassed their lofty opposition in almost every position on the field. After last weeks Challenge Cup humiliation this was a sensational turnaround of form which could signal a change in the Giants 2017 fortunes.
Rhinos: Walker, Briscoe, Watkins (2G), Handley, Hall, McGuire, Moon (T), Galloway, Parcell (T), Mullally, Jones-Buchanan, Delaney, Cuthbertson. Subs: Burrow, Ward, Singleton, Garbutt.
Giants: Mamo (T), McGillvary, Mellor, Murphy, McIntosh (T), Brough (5G, DG), Wood, Ikahihifo, Leeming (T), Wakeman, Roberts (T), Ferguson (T), Hinchcliffe. Subs: Clough, Smith, English, O'Brien.
Referee: Chris Kendall.