A TWO-WEEK break could give Huddersfield Giants the edge when they visit Leeds Rhinos this evening.
Rhinos were in action last Friday, when they battled to a tense and bruising 25-12 win over Kingstone Press Championship leaders Leigh Centurions in the Tetley’s Challenge Cup.
But Giants have not played since hitting back from 12-0 down after 19 minutes to beat Wigan Warriors 31-22 14 days ago.
And ex-Wakefield Trinity Wildcats back Aaron Murphy (pictured inset) feels the extra preparation time could be crucial in what is likely to be a tight game between two top-six rivals.
“The week off has allowed a few people to get over a couple of little knocks and be fully prepared for what will be a tough test against Leeds,” Murphy said.
“We’ll be fresh and I’m sure that will give us a slight edge.”
Giants are looking to make it seven games unbeaten against Leeds, who ended a run of five straight defeats with a 12-12 draw at John Smith’s Stadium in March.
Leeds won 22 of their first 23 meetings with Giants in Super League. But since 2010 the tables have turned and the last nine regular-season encounters have seen Giants win six and Rhinos two.
“These are fantastic games to play in and the atmosphere is always electric every time we play them,” Murphy said of clashes with Leeds, who Giants beat three times in 2013.
“It’s two really good teams going head to head and hopefully we can carry on our good form.”
Murphy added: “Leeds have loads of great players and obviously we’ve seen them enough times to know what will be coming our way and we feel fully prepared. The game against them earlier on this season was interesting so hopefully we can produce the same performance again, but get the win this time.
“We struggled at the start of the year, but we’ve gone back to basics and fixed a few things up. We’ve gone back to playing how suits us best and it seems to be working right now, St Helens game apart.”
The 41-22 setback at Langtree Park was followed by an impressive response against Wigan and Murphy said Giants will be looking to continue in similar style tonight.
“Coming off a bad performance the week before, we managed to put a few things right against Wigan,” he said. “It was a good win and hopefully that will set us up well for the rest of the season.”
Boss Paul Anderson – a former front-row colleague of Leeds coach Brian McDermott at Bradford Bulls – reckons the win over Wigan proves Giants are back to the sort of form which saw them top the table last term.
“It confirmed that if we do things well and with intent it doesn’t matter who we play, we have the ability to cause teams trouble and win games,” said Anderson (pictured right). “That was evident against Wigan.
“We had some clear intentions on what we wanted to do.
“Clear intentions give you the type of performance we got and other than the first 15 minutes I thought we were very good value for the win.”