MATCH REPORT | Huddersfield Giants | Round 12

Huddersfield Giants 10-16 Leigh Leopards

Betfred Super League Round 12, John Smith’s Stadium, Friday 24 May 2024 (8pm)

Leopards ground out their second away win of the season and stretched their unbeaten run to four games at the John Smith’s Stadium.

Despite having three players sin-binned in a stop-start game of 22 penalties- and being down to 11 men at one stage- the Leopards’ outstanding defensive resilience and teamwork paved the way for a precious two points at the start of a tough run of road trips.

First half tries by Josh Charnley and Edwin Ipape, and three Matt Moylan goals seemingly put the visitors on the way to repeating last season’s victory at this venue as they went in 14-0 ahead at the break.

But the Giants, who have now lost all five of their home Super League games in 2024, dominated the second half territory and it took every ounce of effort by the Leopards in a heroic rearguard action to hang on.

Moylan produced another match-winning display with a crucial contribution in attack and brilliant work as the last line of defence. His four kicks from as many attempts were vital in a game in which both sides scored two tries.

Ed Chamberlain and Zak Hardaker led the way with some vital defensive contributions. In a pack that had to cope with an early Robbie Mulhern injury the likes of Ipape, Kai O’Donnell and Owen Trout were among the standouts with their work rate and energy.

Darnell McIntosh made his Leopards’ debut as a 71st minute substitute for Ricky Leutele, earning heritage number HN#1563 against one of his former clubs.

Ben McNamara pulled out of the team after the captain’s run with a tight hamstring to add to the Leopards’ injury concerns and Mulhern left the field in the seventh minute never to return.

Leopards survived an early Giants assault and hit the front when Moylan timed his run perfectly into the attacking line, taking Lachlan Lam’s pass at pace to usher Charnley over on the left. Moylan added the touchline goal.

There was an anxious moment when Ipape pulled up in pain after a heavy tackle but happily he was able to resume. And with Olly Russell the first man of the night in the bin, Ipape scored a fine individual try, taking the ball 15 metres out and bouncing over in a two-man tackle.

Moylan, who had extended Leopards’ lead with a penalty for Sebastine Ikahihifo’s high tackle, added the conversion for that 14-0 lead.

Leopards looked comfortable at this stage, completing at 90 percent, and defending solidly and with great energy.

But an increasingly scrappy and penalty-littered game turned against them as first Chamberlain and then Frankie Halton were sin-binned in the five minutes before half-time.

Temporarily down to 11, Leopards conceded right at the start of the second half as Sam Hewitt twisted over on the left, Russell failing with his conversion attempt.

The dangerous Esan Marsters was stopped over the line in a four-man tackle that demonstrated the Leopards’ determination before they got back to 13 men.

Midway through the half Ashton Golding was held up over the line, then Marsters crossed on the left. Referee James Vella awarded the on-field try but video referee Ben Thaler spotted Hewitt taking out Chamberlain with his decoy run off the ball and the effort was ruled out.

With 12 minutes left Giants captain Luke Yates went high on O’Donnell and Moylan calmly potted the penalty for a 16-4 advantage and the Leopards’ only points of the second half.

But with just three minutes left Kevin Naiqama got on the end of Adam Clune’s chip-kick and Russell’s goal narrowed the gap to six points.

Leopards’ anxieties grew as Brad Dwyer became their third player to be yellow carded for an alleged trip in the build-up.

As Giants poured forward in one last desperate effort, Moylan calmly watched Tui Lolohea’s kick just roll dead before Leopards lost possession with 30 seconds remaining. Giants attacked to the right but the pass to winger Elliot Wallis went to ground and the relief was tangible, the victory confirmed.

Giants

6 Tui Lolohea; 20 Elliot Wallis, 4 Kevin Naiqama, 3 Esan Marsters, 24 Sam Halsall; 23 Olly Russell, 7 Adam Clune; 8 Chris Hill, 19 Thomas Deakin, 13 Luke Yates (capt), 11 Jack Murchie, 12 Sam Hewitt, 21 Leroy Cudjoe

Bench: 14 Ashton Golding, 18 Sebastine Ikahihifo, 16 Harry Rushton, 17 Oliver Wilson. 18th player: 5 Jake Bibby (not used)

Tries: Hewitt (42), Naiqama (77)

Goal: Russell 1/ 2

Sin bin: Russell (29)

Leopards

3 Zak Hardaker; 24 Umyla Hanley, 19 Ed Chamberlain, 4 Ricky Leutele, 5 Josh Charnley; 6 Matt Moylan, 7 Lachlan Lam (capt); 8 Tom Amone, 9 Edwin Ipape, 10 Robbie Mulhern, 11 Kai O’Donnell, 16 Frankie Halton, 17 Owen Trout

Bench: 14 Dan Norman, 12 Jack Hughes, 34 Darnell McIntosh, 33 Brad Dwyer. 18th player: 29 Lewis Baxter (not used)

Debut: Darnell McIntosh (HN#1563)

Tries: Charnley (11), Ipape (30)

Goals: Moylan 4/ 4

Sin bin: Chamberlain (35), Halton (39), Dwyer (77)

Scoring sequence: 0-6, 0-8, 0-14 (ht) 4-14, 4-16, 10-16

Attendance: 4,385

Penalty count: 12-10

Referee: James Vella; Tough judges: D Arnold and D Bowmer; Reserve referee: A Belafonte; Match Commissioner: S Williams; Video Referee: Ben Thaler; Timekeeper: N Hope

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