DOGS DO ENOUGH | A gutsy second half comeback wasn't enough for the Dragons last night as Canterbury...
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Leeds began engage Super League XI in encouraging style as they overcame Huddersfield 20-12 on a significant afternoon for both clubs at the Headingley Carnegie Stadium.
Both squads underwent serious makeovers during the winter with Leeds welcoming Jamie Peacock, Scott Donald and Shane Millard into their line-up.
Peacock, an ex-Bradford captain, also came face-to-face with Robbie Paul, another Bulls legend, who was making his debut along with five others for a new-look Huddersfield.
Although claiming the two points on offer, Leeds were made to work hard for the win by a resilient Huddersfield side in a clash littered with handling errors.
Despite an enterprising opening from the visitors, in which Paul was a key contributor, their ill-discipline in conceding four early penalties proved costly as Leeds moved into the lead on 14 minutes.
After finding themselves trapped on their own line, Huddersfield struggled manfully to prevent Gareth Ellis crossing, only to see Kevin Sinfield do so in the next move, collecting Matt Diskin's bullet pass to touch down under the posts.
Sinfield's goal opened up a six-point gap, although Huddersfield responded to force two goal line drop-outs in succession.
After a period of relative stability during which Ryan Bailey was held up over the line, Leeds were soon able to extend their advantage, Chev Walker feeding Donald, who avoided both Albert Torrens and the whitewash, before touching down.
This time, Huddersfield's response led to points as Torrens too marked his debut with a try, cashing in on Chris Thorman's superb break to dive over to the left of the posts.
With Thorman converting to bring the scores back to 10-6, Huddersfield would have been happy with such a deficit at the break, but any such hopes were dashed when Lee Smith burst on to Willie Poching's looped pass to register the Rhinos? third try.
Sinfield's two failed conversions saw the home side go in 14-6 ahead at the interval.
Unfortunately for a crowd of just over 16,000, the second period did not begin with the same intensity as the first, with the first noteworthy moment being Sinfield?s knock-on with the line at his mercy.
It said much for Leeds? territorial dominance that Huddersfield did not enter their half until 24 minutes into the second period, although despite their possession, Leeds were unable to find the breakthrough.
After the visitors had finally made a foray into their opponents? half with ball in hand, they only served to spill possession, with Ali Lauitiiti swooping on the loose ball to feed Danny McGuire, who sped away from the cover defence to score and seemingly settle the game.
However McGuire?s touchdown sparked Huddersfield into life and they soon hit back with a penalty try in the 69th minute.
Despite James Evans crossing to the right of the posts, referee Steve Ganson decided a late tackle behind the line on the centre by Richard Mathers was enough to award a penalty try under the posts and send Mathers to the sinbin.
Thorman kicked the goal, and after a dormant 30 minutes, Huddersfield were back on Leeds? trail at 20-12.
A brace of penalties helped Leeds relieve the pressure somewhat, and despite a couple of tense moments, specifically a thunderous break from Chris Nero and Walker?s claiming of a high-kick under intense pressure, they held on for the win.
Leeds: 20 (14)
Tries: Sinfield, Donald, Smith, McGuire.
Goals: Sinfield 2.
Huddersfield: 12 (6)
Tries: Torrens, Evans.
Goals: Thorman 2.
Leeds: Mathers, Donald, Walker, Senior, Smith, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Sinfield.
Replacements: Millard, Poching, Jones-Buchanan, Scruton.
Huddersfield: Reilly, Aspinwall, Evans, Torrens, De Vere, Thorman, Paul, McDonald, Drew, Jackson, Smith, Jones, Wild.
Replacements: Crabtree, Nero, Snitch, March.
Referee: S Ganson (St Helens)