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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

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Leeds Rhinos 20 Huddersfield Giants 12

14th June 2009

By Leeds Rhinos

Kallum Watkins scored a sensational interception try to seal a remarkable come back by the Champions as they beat Huddersfield 20-12 at Headingley Carnegie.

The Giants led 12-0 deep into the second half and it looked that they may secure their first win at Headingley Carnegie since 9th September 1959.

WP – Home MPU

However, two tries from Watkins and a great effort by Kylie Leuluai plus a faultless kicking game from Kevin Sinfield made sure it was the Rhinos who moved into second place in the engage Super League.. 

Both teams were without the players involved in the France v England game played less than 24 hours before in Paris so Brian McClennan and Nathan Brown were forced to make changes to their respective teams. 

Huddersfield welcomed back Darrell Griffin in the front row in place of Eorl Crabtree whilst Shaun Lunt took over the hooking duties from Scott Moore. Prehaps more importantly they saw the return of their captain and full back Brett Hodgson and new signing Liam Fulton was amongst the replacements.

Kallum Watkins took over on the wing from Super League’s leading try scorer Ryan Hall for the Rhinos whilst Rob Burrow returned from injury to fill in for Danny McGuire in the half backs. With Kevin Sinfield starting at stand off, Matt Diskin began the game at loose forward.  There was also a welcome return to the first team for Simon Worrall on the bench.

The game was played in bright sunshine with both teams starting well in the opening sets. The visitors had an early chance when Kallum Watkins lost control of the ball close to his own line but Martin Aspinwall was unable to take Kevin Brown’s pass at the chance was gone.

After eight minutes it took a brilliant cover tackle by Carl Ablett to stop a certain try from Lunt. He broke through in midfield but was stopped five metres short before Ablett ripped the ball from his grasp and gave his side the chance to counter attack.

The Rhinos best chance came after 14 minutes when a great break by Scott Donald, Carl Ablett and Brent Webb saw the home side march upfield. Having been denied down the South Stand side with a cover tackle on Watkins, the Rhinos shifted the ball across field. Lee Smith created an overlap by cutting back inside but Donald was bitterly disappointed as he knocked on Smith’s pass with the line at his mercy.

Donald nearly had another chance soon after when a cleverly weighted kick by Burrow looked certain to fgift Donald a score only for the final bounce to take it away from the winger and allowed the Giants cover to get across and bat the ball dead. 

The Rhinos were enjoying the majority of possession but could not find a way through the resolute Giants defence. Rob Burrow kicked a 40:20 after 24 minutes but just as it seemed the pressure would lead to points, Luke Burgess was unable to keep hold of the ball in the tackle.

Eventually, Huddersfield did manage to get some time in the Leeds half and they came up with the first score when a quick offload by Paul Whatuira created space out wide and allowed David Hodgson to get on the outside of Lee Smith to score in the corner. Brett Hodgson added the touchline conversion to make it 6-0 after 33 minutes.

The Rhinos had the chance to hit back with two minutes remaining in the half when Burrow ducked his way under a tackle but his short pass came off the head of Burges and the chance was going. Even then the Rhinos could have levelled the try count in their last play of the half when Smith kicked ahead for Donald to chase. Having beat the cover and he could not take the ball in as he dived for the line.

The second half started badly for the Rhinos when they conceded a try after just two minutes. Having blocked a kick just inside the Leeds half, Jamie Jones-Buchanan seemed to be harshly penalised for holding on as he appealed for possession. From there, the ball was kicked down field but the Rhinos looked like they had a chance to snuff out the chance when a miss pass was grabbed by Donald. However, he lost control and eventually play came back the other way and Kevin Brown side stepped past Brent Webb to score. Brett Hodgson added the conversion to make it 12-0.

Leeds could have hit back in the next set by a grubber kick by Burrow was knocked dead by Luke Robinson just in front of Webb. However, from the drop out, the Rhinos did get their first try when a great offload by Keith Senior was picked up by Kallum Watkins, who touched down for second try of the season. Sinfield added the touchline conversion to make it 12-6 after 46 minutes.

The Rhinos pressed hard for an equaliser and had a good spell of pressure on the Huddersfield line. However, David Hodgson then intercepted Jones-Buchanan’s pass and looked set to score only for Webb and Donald to chase back and tackle him 30 metres short.

The home side had a great chance just after the hour mark to score when Jones-Buchanan took Webb’s short pass and powered for the line but he was pushed into the post and was unable to get down to score the try. Momentum though had swung in the favour of the Rhinos and Huddersfield were lucky to keep 13 men on the pitch soon after.

Burrow broke through 40 metres out and had Smith in support to score a certain try only to be taken out in back play. Referee Thierry Alibert missed that but did give the Rhinos a penalty for offside two tackles later. Eventually the pressure told and Leuluai showed immense power to get over the line from a second effort after 68 minutes. Sinfield added the conversion to level the score.

Leeds sensed this was their chance to strike for the front and they took the lead for the first time after 71 minutes. Lee Mossop was penalised for interference in the tackle. SInfield stepped up coolly to kick the penalty from 40 metres out on the angle and make it 14-12 to his side.

Twice Huddersfield handed Leeds possession with knocks on near their line but the Rhinos could not put the game to bed. It looked as it they may have victory snatched from them for the second week running when the Giants were attacking the home line in the final minutes only for Kallum Watkins to rise and catch a floated pass and race 90 metres to score an interception try between the posts. Sinfield added the conversion to seal a remarkable come back.

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