Leeds Rhinos 18-14 Huddersfield Giants: Player ratings and five major talking points

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com - 24/08/2022 - Rugby League - Betfred Super League Round 25 - Leeds Rhinos v Huddersfield Giants - Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England - Leeds’ Blake Austin celebrates scoring a try.

What an amazing game and a massive win for Leeds as they chase play-off rugby. The Rhinos defied the odds in a game in which they were on the back foot to pinch it at the end with an amazing moment.

Talking Points:

80 minutes of defence
If you combine the second half against Warrington with the first half tonight, it equates to one full game of defence pretty much as the Rhinos held on magnificently. Though the defence on their own line was again encouraging, it’s not a habit Leeds can afford to get into at this stage of the season. Yes it’s beneficial in big games but also energy sapping and doing it on a weekly basis as the season concludes is not a wise move.

Fusitu’a fun
David Fusitu’a was back in the side tonight after a ban and boy did his influence tell. I’ve rarely seen the Huddersfield defence – one of the toughest defences in Super League to break apart from inside your own half – frightened of one player but Fusitu’a, after his early break created the opening try, had the Giants defence unsure every time he charged often giving Leeds’ go forward a real boost.

Rhinos muscle up
Tonight was always going to be an important measuring stick for Leeds. The main criticism I’ve seen about Rohan Smith’s side is that they don’t have the size to match the top teams. Well Huddersfield are one of the best teams in the league in the middle of the field and Leeds matched them not by trying to copy them but doing it their own way willing to move the ball and play with enough energy to roll down field.

Kicking game steps up
Since the retirement of the holy trinity of Kev, Danny and Rob, Leeds haven’t had the best kicking game in Super League by some way despite some stunning showing from Luke Gale at times. That’s one of the reasons fans were excited by the signing of Aidan Sezer and Blake Austin and their arrival seems to be paying off now in that department. Alongside Richie Myler, the duo smartly turned Huddersfield around at times doing to them what Huddersfield so often do to other teams. A must against two of the best kickers in the league in Theo Fages and Olly Russell.

What a moment, a moment that sums up the character in this team at the moment. Down to 12 men twice having lost two players to injury, Brad Dwyer again showed what Leeds miss next year when his darting run opened up a gap for Blake Austin to win it with an amazing try that will live long in the memory.

Player Ratings:

16 Richie Myler – 8
2 David Fuistu’a – 8
33 Zak Hardaker – 8
4 Liam Sutcliffe – N/A
5 Ash Handley – 7
6 Blake Austin – 8
7 Aidan Sezer – 7
8 Mikolaj Oledzki – 8
14 Brad Dwyer – 7
13 Zane Tetevano – 7
21 Morgan Gannon – 8
12 Rhyse Martin – 8
11 James Bentley – 8
9 Kruise Leeming – 7
10 Matt Prior – 7
20 Tom Briscoe – 8
24 Jarrod O’Connor – 7

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