Opposition Profile: Huddersfield Giants

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com - 15/08/2020 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League - Huddersfield Giants v Warrington Wolves - The Totally Wicked Stadium, Langtree Park, St Helens, England - Huddersfield's Jermaine McGillvary celebrates his try against Warrington with Sam Wood.

After only six weeks, Leeds are set to take on Huddersfield once again in the Betfred Super League, this time at St Helens’ Totally Wicked Stadium on Friday, kick off 8:15pm.

It’s the first time that the Rhinos have been in action since their 50-12 result over Salford Red Devils, with matches against Wakefield and Catalans being postponed, whilst the Giants, who are suffering a bit of an injury crisis, are coming off the back of a 50 point defeat to St Helens at Emerald Headingley.

Find out more about Simon Woolford’s side here:


Overview

Since Super League has resumed, Huddersfield Giants have struggled to replicate their form from the start of the year. Prior to lockdown, Huddersfield won four out of their five opening matches, beating Hull KR, Catalans in Perpignan, last year’s Grand Finalists Salford and, notably, the reigning Champions St Helens. Since the season has restarted, Simon Woolford’s side though have lost every match, including one point defeats against Leeds and Warrington plus a 31-12 loss to Hull FC and a 54-6 defeat to St Helens last Friday.

It has to be noted though that Giants only had 16 fit players coming into last week’s fixture against Saints. Kenny Edwards was the only player on the injury list to play, whilst Woolford had no choice but to debut some of the club’s upcoming stars, including Dom Young, who is set to join NRL side Newcastle Knights next year, as well as Reiss Butterworth and Rhinos Academy product and try scorer, Owen Trout.

Luke Gale’s golden point extra time drop goal sealed a remarkable comeback for the Rhinos at Emerald Headingley, with Huddersfield leading 26-6 with over ten minutes to go.

Former State of Origin and England international forward Chris McQueen will help Huddersfield’s injury crisis, with the former Wests Tigers player signing a three-month trial contract until the end of 2021. He will be available for selection this week and Woolford will be hoping to have more players, such as star half back Aiden Sezer or young winger Darnell McIntosh, back in his matchday squad.


Last Time Out

It was another big scoreline against Huddersfield when they met League Leader’s St Helens in round 11. There were seven Saints scorers and former Rhino Owen Trout crossed for Huddersfield’s only try.


Key Players

ADAM O’BRIEN

Position: Hooker

Age: 27

Scored 4 tries in 27 appearances for Huddersfield last season

Former Clubs: Bradford Bulls, Dewsbury Rams and Halifax

Bio: Currently ranked third in Super League for runs from dummy half and seventh for marker tackles, it’s fair to say that O’Brien does a lot of work out of dummy half. Praised during his time at Bradford, he has transferred his skills into a claret and gold jersey and is the Giants’ go to player while Aiden Sezer is sidelined.

MATTY ENGLISH

Position: Prop

Age: 22

Super League apps: 42

Represented England Knights against Jamaica last year

Bio: An upcoming forward to watch out for, English has progressed through the Giants Academy squad to be a regular in the first team’s matchday squad. A strong runner of the ball, he can punch holes in defences and has only missed 25 of his 196 tackles so far this season. Along with Oliver Wilson, who was signed from Bradford last season, Huddersfield have two props for the future.


Previous Meetings

When Huddersfield first faced Leeds in 1998, both home and away matches were high scoring affairs for the men in blue and amber. Two tries for both Francis Cummins and Marcus St Hilaire gave Graham Murray’s side a 54-4 result at Headingley before a 13 try thrashing at Alfred McAlpine Stadium helped the Rhinos continue a six match winning streak towards the end of the league season.

Over the next three seasons, Leeds recorded wins both home and away against the Giants.

Ryan Hall has the most tries out of any Leeds player agains the Giants. The former Leeds winger has scored 14 times against the Claret and Golds, including one in the Rhinos’ 21-20 win at Emerald Headingley in 2010.

Huddersfield remained unbeaten home and away against the Rhinos throughout the 2012, 2013 and 2014 Super League seasons, winning five matches and drawing once. Their best performance during that time came at the John Smith’s Stadium in 2012 when captain Danny Brough posted 20 points to help his side to a 48-24 victory. The Giant’s also scored a combined 72 points in both league matches against Leeds a year later in 2013 when they lifted the League Leaders’ Shield (32-8 at home and 40-18 at Headingley).

Last Ten Meetings vs Leeds

Huddersfield Giants 26 Leeds Rhinos 27 (Rnd 8, 02/08/20)

Huddersfield Giants 0 Leeds Rhinos 44 (Rnd 25, 02/08/19)

Leeds Rhinos 38 Huddersfield Giants 18 (Rnd 11, 19/04/19)

Leeds Rhinos 18 Huddersfield Giants 25 (Rnd 16, 08/06/18)

Huddersfield Giants 22 Leeds Rhinos 22 (Rnd 8, 30/03/18)

Huddersfield Giants 12 Leeds Rhinos 36 (Super 8s, 22/09/17)

Leeds Rhinos 12 Huddersfield Giants 31 (Rnd 12, 27/04/17)

Huddersfield Giants 12 Leeds Rhinos 28 (Rnd 6, 24/03/17)

Huddersfield Giants 22 Leeds Rhinos 14 (Qualifiers, 18/09/16)

Huddersfield Giants 36 Leeds Rhinos 22 (Challenge Cup Rnd 6, 06/05/16)


Record against the Rhinos

Overall, Leeds have played Huddersfield in the league 188 times, winning 106 of them (56%). In the Super League era, when the Giants first joined in 1998, Huddersfield only won one regular season match in the first eleven years (excluding 2002 when they played in the Northern Ford Premiership).

The Rhinos’ longest unbeaten record at both home and away came between 2004 and 2009 as Leeds won 12 matches; their biggest win of that period coming in 2005 when Richie Mathers, Chris McKenna and Chev Walker all scored twice in a 54-10 win.

Huddersfield recorded their biggest win at Headingley in 2013.

More recently though, Huddersfield have been the more dominant against Leeds both at home and away in the league over the last eight years. It is their best form against Leeds since they joined Super League with nine wins and three draws.

There has also been three draws in the last six years. A low scoring 12-12 affair at the start of the 2014 season was followed by a 24 all deadlock the year after; Kallum Watkins scoring in both matches. Two years ago, Ash Handley saved a point for the visiting Rhinos, scoring late on to secure a 22 all stalemate.


Head to Head


Last Game Against the Rhinos

When the Rhinos and Giants met to kick off the restart of the Betfred Super League season, it took a Luke Gale drop goal in golden point extra time to separate the two sides. Louis Senior and Konrad Hurrell grabbed tries for both sides but a hat trick from Darnell Macintosh and a second for Senior gave the Giants a 20 point advantage. The Rhinos fought back to level the score though; Luke Gale, Luke Briscoe, Alex Mellor and Hurrell crossing the whitewash and Rhyse Martin adding a touchline conversion to complete a sensational comeback and send the game into extra time, where Gale slotted a 35 metre drop goal to win the match for Leeds.