Giants hit back to draw

Published: Thursday 30th April 2015 by The News Editor

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Super League leaders Leeds were forced to scramble for a point in a 24-24 draw after squandering a 22-6 lead in a West Yorkshire thriller against Huddersfield at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The two sides fought out a 12-12 draw in the corresponding game last season and Leeds stand-off Liam Sutcliffe, taking on the playmaking and goalkicking roles in the absence of skipper Kevin Sinfield, kicked a penalty four minutes from the end to ensure honours finished even once more.

The Rhinos, who dropped S infield for the first time for 15 years, faded badly after dominating the first half and could now see their lead cut to three points if St Helens beat bottom club Wakefield on Friday night.

Huddersfield started and finished the better side, with lively skipper Danny Brough skipping through the heart of the Leeds defence to get second rower Joe Wardle over for the first of his two tries in the fourth minute.

The Giants might have been further ahead had Brough not had a try disallowed but the Rhinos quickly began to demonstrated their lethal finishing with the aid of back-to-back penalties conceded by substitute prop Craig Kopczak.

Second rower Brett Delaney accepted Sutcliffe’s pass to cross for his first try of the season and Sutcliffe’s conversion, which went in off an upright, levelled the scores.

Replacement prop Brad Singleton was then held up over the line before second rower Carl Ablett went over on the next play from Paul Aiton’s sharp pass from dummy half.

Sutcliffe’s second conversion made it 12-6 and winger Kallum Watkins saved a certain try by deflecting Brough’s pass into touch with his opposite number Aaron Murphy perfectly positioned to score.

It proved to be an important intervention as Leeds added two further tries in the last 10 minutes of the first half to establish a stranglehold on the game.

Centre Joel Moon jinked his way over for one and Watkins took a pass from Jimmy Keinhorst to produce a superb finish to register his eighth try of the season.

Brough pulled two points back on the stroke of half-time with a 40-metre penalty but, trailing 22-8, there seemed no way back for the home side.

However, with Brough pulling the strings and veteran prop Eorl Crabtree producing a series of rampaging runs, Huddersfield put the Leeds defence under enormous pressure in the third quarter.

The visitors successfully defended three successive sets on their own line but finally cracked in the 60th minute when second rower Michael Lawrence used his deceptive strength to force his way over for his side’s second try.

Brough’s third goal cut the deficit to eight points and it was down to just four four minutes later when impressive winger Jermaine McGillvary collected Brough’s towering kick at the second attempt to touch down.

The momentum was all with the Giants then and they duly regained the lead on 66 minutes when Wardle accepted Brough’s inside pass and charged through for his second try.

Huddersfield forced four goal-line drop-outs to maintain the pressure and Wardle went close to completing his hat-trick before Leeds gained a penalty for offside on a rare foray into the home half and Sutcliffe kicked his fourth goal to tie the scores.

Sutcliffe had a chance to win it with a drop goal but his kick went wide and hooker Rob Burrow slipped on the turf as he went close to scoring in the last minute.

Published: Thursday 30th April 2015 by The News Editor

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