Leeds Rhinos 18 Huddersfield Giants 14: Blake Austin grabs dramatic late winner
and live on Freeview channel 276
It was a huge win – and the sixth in succession – for Rhinos who now have one foot in the play-offs.
There wasn’t a lot of open, attacking rugby, but defence was ferocious at times and Leeds were good enough to take three of their very limited chances.
Rhinos got off to a flier with a try after just four minutes, but they were starved of possession and territory after that and would have been further than 8-6 behind at the break but for three missed kicks by Giants’ Olly Russell.
The hosts had only 12 players on the field when Giants scored the try which nosed them ahead, Austin having been - very harshly - sin-binned.
Leeds went back in front straight after half-time, but then had their other half-back, Aidan Sezer, yellow carded in the incident which led to Giants’ third try.
Huddersfield thought they had won it when Olly Russell - after four previous misses - booted a penalty goal to make it 14-12 after 72 minutes.
But three minutes from time, Chris Hill, the Giants prop, was sin-binned for an alleged dangerous throw on Richie Myler.
The penalty gave Leeds one last attacking chance and they took it as Brad Dwyer - who started and had just come back for a second spell, in place of returning captain Kruise Leeming - spun and fired a pass to Austin who ran a superb line to touch down.
Rhyse Martin landed his third goal, extending his hot streak to 30 successful kicks - and, after Leeds snapped up the short restart, Joe Greenwood became the third player to be binned, for a dangerous tackle on Dwyer, though Danny Levi looked more at fault.The sin-binnings mean Leeds face an anxious wait before Friday’s match review panel meeting.
They also picked up a couple of injury concerns. After being sidelined since April by an ankle ligament problem, Tom Briscoe was named among the substitutes, but found himself in the action - as a straight swap - after just seven minutes when Liam Sutcliffe limped off.
Second-rower Morgan Gannon joined him in the treatment room midway through the second half.
A try by Rhyse Martin, after four minutes, gave Rhinos the perfect start.
It came initially from a break straight up the middle by David Fusitu’a, who was back in the team after a two-game ban.
Myler and Martin were in support and though they couldn’t go the distance, on the last tackle Sezer floated a kick to the left flank, Ash Handley made the catch and Martin was in place to take his offload.
Video referee Marcus Griffiths was called into action on successive tackles after nine minutes. First he ruled Chris Hill had been held up over the line by Dwyer, agreeing with referee Jack Smith’s initial decision of no try.
Then Theo Fages kicked to the corner and the ball bounced around before being touched down by Leroy Cudjoe. This time Smith indicated a try, but Griffiths spotted a touch by Toby King from the original kick.
Giants got on the board after 16 minutes through Ricky Leutele, who stepped past Fusitu’a from a pass by Tui Lolohea.
Smith managed to give that one without any help, but had to ask for Griffith’s input when Mikolaj Oledzki forced his way to the line off James Bentley’s pass.
Both officials agreed the big prop had lost possession.
Austin spent the final eight minutes of the half in the sin-bin. It was a questionable decision, supposedly for Austin using his shoulder on Sam Hewitt.
Effectively, the Giants man ran straight at Austin and there wasn’t really anywhere Leeds’ stand-off could go.
That was the second of successive penalties, the first having come when Bentley allegedly didn’t play the ball properly and was then pinged for dissent.
The original call was debatable, but arguing about it never does any good. Olly Russell was wide with his attempt to take the two after Austin’s alleged foul.
Giants were awarded a six-again from the restart, then another penalty. At the end of that set they forced a drop out and all the pressure finally told when Louis Senior crossed from Leutele’s pass, four minutes before half-time.
Leeds hit the front for the second time just two minutes after the interval. King was tackled into touch from Rhinos’ kick-off and at the end of the resulting set Myler ducked through from close-range. Smith said try and Griffiths, eventually, agreed.
After Greenwood - who had a spell on loan at Leeds two years ago, without playing a game - was held up over Rhinos’ line, Austin was penalised for a dangerous throw on Cudjoe who extracted revenge by crossing in the same set from Lolohea’s pass, after 57 minutes.
Fages went down in back play - and had to be replaced - following a collision with Sezer and - presumably on advice from the video official - it was 12 versus 13 again.
Rhinos survived that spell, but began giving the ball away inside their own half and, with eight minutes to go, Giants went back in front through Russell who landed a penalty after Myler was caught offside.
Hill’s sin-binning was hotly disputed by Giants who felt Myler had milked it. However, it gave Leeds a last chance and the roof came off as they took it.
Leeds Rhinos: Myler, Fusitu’a, Hardaker, Sutcliffe, Handley, Austin, Sezer, Oledzki, Dwyer, Tetevano, Gannon, Martin, Bentley. Subs Leeming, Prior, Briscoe, O’Connor.
Huddersfield Giants: Lolohea, Cudjoe, King, Leutele, L Senior, Fages, Russell, Hill, Levi, Wilson, Hewitt, McQueen, Yates. Subs English, Greenwood, O’Brien, Trout.
Referee: Jack Smith (Wigan).