Despite being a rearranged home game for the Giants, delayed from round two, Huddersfield had to travel to Leeds to take on a Rhinos side with both sides having their eyes on the top of the table.
The second game of the Super League restart saw a West Yorkshire derby between two sides who made a great pre-lockdown start to the 2020 season and who would have hoped to have picked up where they left off in March.
A win for either side would lift them to the top of the table, but the nature of the game would tell us so much more about their prospects for the season.
The Rhinos lost the ball on their own thirty and as the Giants advanced to the line the referee wiped the tackle count off. A Lee Gaskell grubber was caught in goal by Louis Senior and grounded in the corner for the opening try on three minutes. Aiden Sezer was unable to add the conversion from the right touchline.
On eight minutes Richie Myler went close but Ashton Golding managed to keep the ball from being grounded. But on twelve minutes a rolling break from the Rhinos including Alex Mellor and Luke Gale saw the ball end up in the hands of Konrad Hurrell who slid over in the left corner. A superb touchline kick from Rhyse Martin gave the Rhinos the lead.
The Giants responded straight away with Darnell McIntosh walking in off a Golding miss-out pass to stoop and score one-handed in the left corner. Sezer again missed the conversion, the Giants two points ahead.
On twenty-one McIntosh got his second of the game off a long pass from Gaskell to again exploit space out wide to score one-handed. Sezer pushed his kick across the front of the posts but the Giants had a six point lead.
The Giants defence was holding firm and they were hitting the Rhinos on the break to the increasing frustration of the team in blue and white. The Rhinos were getting plenty of posession in good territory but seemed devoid of ideas when close to the line.
An obstruction by Mellor on Gaskell gifted Sezer a twenty metre penalty kick from in front of the sticks and he accepted the invitationt to give his side an eight point interval lead.
An awful pass by Robert Lui was picked up by McIntosh twenty from to his own line and the winger went eighty metres to evade the Leeds tacklers and score under the sticks for his hat-trick try. Sezer kicked the conversion for 20-6, the Giants easing themselves towards the top of the table.
Leeds were struck a further blow on fifty when James Donaldson was stretchered off the field. The Rhinos were becoming increasingly frustrated and their frustration was manifesting itself as penalties as the Giants continued to put in a near flawless performance.
Ash Handley was sin-binned on sixty-one for dissent after being rules offside when making a pass intercept. Leeds on their own line and down to twelve men. Repeated penalties were putting the Rhinos under extreme pressure and a long pass from Sezer found Senior who went in on the overlap. Sezer added the two and at 26-6 the game was looking well beyond the Rhinos.
Luke Gale seemingly got some Rhinos consolation on sixty-seven throwing the dummy from ten metres out and finding a small chink in the Giants armour. Martin couldn’t add the conversion but the Rhinos were into double figures.
With eleven minutes on the clock a spectacular try from Luke Briscoe, stretching to ground while airborne as he was at the end of a cross field passing move after great breaks from Gale and Hurrell. Martin was again unaccurate with the boot, the margin down to twelve points. The Rhinos players looked like they had a belief that they could win the game.
On seventy-two Alex Mellor crashed the line as the Rhinos cranked up the pace and somehow managed to get the ball on the ground under the tackle from Golding. Martin kicked the goal and the Rhinos were now behind by just six points.
With two minutes remaining Konrad Hurrell spun over the line off a Gale pass to grab the try to take the Rhinos within two points of the Giants. Hurrell kept his composure to kick the goal and level the scores at 26-26 with just under sixty points left on the clock.
A Leeds mistake almost cost them the game in the dying seconds but the final hooter beckoned golden point after a stunning Leeds fightback in a sensational last fifteen minutes.
Adam Cuthbertson lost the ball on half way as Leeds went on the offensive but a Gaskell attempted drop goal went wide.
Three and a half minutes into golden point Luke Gale kicked a forty metre drop goal to snatch a Rhinos victory which sends them to the top of the table with one of the most sensational fightbacks of all time. Leeds trailed by 26-6, and were down to twelve men, with fifteen minutes remaining and they forced the draw and snatched the golden point win.
Nothing short of a sensational fixture of the opening weekend. What a game and what a finale!
Giants: Golding, Wardle, Turner, McIntosh (3T), Gaskell, Sezer (3G), Gavet, O’Brien, Edwards, Lawrence, English, Senior (2T), Wood. Subs: Matagi, Wilson, Murphy, Holmes.
Rhinos: Newman, Hurrell (2T), Handley (SB on 61), Gale (T, DG), Lui, Seumanufagai, Prior, Mellor (T), Martin (3G), Dwyer, Myler, Oledzki, Briscoe L (T). Subs: Leeming, Cuthbertson, Smith, Donaldson.
Referee: Rob Hicks.
Full-Time: 26-26. (26-27 after Golden Point)
Ground: Emerald Headingley, Leeds