Rhinos maintain title challenge

Leeds? tireless pursuit of engage Super League leaders St Helens continued at the Galpharm Stadium on Sunday afternoon as they eventually overcame a dogged Huddersfield side 36-14.

Tony Smith?s men had to contend with sweltering heat as they registered their seventh straight success, with the Giants providing them with a stern test of their title credentials.

Leeds had looked in trouble at one point, trailing 8-4 going into the second-half, although a devastating burst of three tries in five minutes soon shook off any doubts they may have had.

The victory can be viewed in even higher regard considering four of the Rhinos? side took part in Tuesday?s international between Great Britain and New Zealand, although one of the stars of that tie, Danny McGuire, missed out with an injury.

Scott Donald had opened the scoring for Leeds in the fifth minute after the home defence had struggled to deal with Kevin Sinfield?s spiralling high kick. Although Sinfield missed the subsequent conversion, Leeds seemed set to dominate the rest of the half.

However, despite having the majority of the possession, they failed to break down a resilient home defence, whilst Sinfield - normally coolness personified in the Leeds? engine room - looked strangely out of sorts.

With the half-time hooter approaching, Michael De Vere then posted an eight-point burst to send Huddersfield into the break with a generous lead.

After slotting a 35th minute penalty, the centre was on hand to score after a powerful run from Chris Nero. His conversion completed the mini turnaround.

The second period began in similar fashion to the first, with Leeds crossing for a try as Chev Walker collected Carl Ablett?s pass following Martin Aspinwall?s poor attempt to halt the Leeds attack.

The way in which Leeds carved open the Huddersfield rearguard was in stark contrast to the first period, although Sinfield?s missed conversion left the scores tied at 8-8.

Sinfield eventually put that right in the 53rd minute, shortly after Rob Burrow had edged Leeds back in front. Powerhouse forward Ali Lauitiiti was the architect of the try, off-loading in heavy traffic, allowing Burrow a sprint to the corner.

Burrow?s touchdown proved the catalyst for the try of the game, again featuring Lauitiiti. The Kiwi sent a crunching pass into the chest of the onrushing Keith Senior, who burst the line and found the supporting Danny Williams for a score under the posts.

A similar try followed from Jamie Jones-Buchanan with the first play after the kick-off, Williams this time turning provider as Leeds cast off the shackles of the first-half.

Huddersfield?s spirit was commendable though, and Kevin Brown marked his debut with a try, scurrying over in the corner. De Vere added the extras from the touchline to leave the score standing at 26-14.

Williams then collected his second try of the game and the 10th of his debut season to rule out any thoughts of a Giants comeback, swooping on Willie Poching?s offload, but Sinfield again missed the conversion.

Jamie Peacock, who was immense throughout considering the conditions, then brought the curtain down on the scoring with a typically robust effort in the 78th minute.

Huddersfield: Reilly, Aspinwall, Wild, De Vere, Donlan, Brown, Thorman, Mason, Paul, Gannon, Nero, Raleigh, Jones. Replacements: Crabtree, Drew, Snitch, McDonald.

Leeds: Smith, Donald, Walker, Senior, Williams, Sinfield, Burrow, Bailey, Millard, Jones-Buchanan, Peacock, Poching, Ellis. Replacements: Lauitiiti, Ablett, O?Neill, Scruton.

Huddersfield: (8) 14. Tries: De Vere, Brown. Goals: De Vere 3.

Leeds: (4) 36. Tries: Donald, Walker, Burrow, Williams 2, Jones-Buchanan, Peacock. Goals: Sinfield 4.

Referee: A Klein (London)

Att: 7,416

Source: superleague.co.uk

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