|Leeds Rhinos (0) 13|
|Try: Hurrell, Briscoe Goal: Gale 2 Drop-Goal: Gale|
|Huddersfield Giants (10) 12|
|Tries: English Goals: Russell 4|
A depleted Leeds Rhinos fought back to beat Huddersfield Giants after being forced to stand down seven players as a precaution under Covid-19 protocols.
One member of Leeds’ squad was awaiting results of an antigen test after a family member showed symptoms.
Six other players who had been in close contact with the player earlier in the week also sat out the match.
Konrad Hurrell and Tom Briscoe tries and a Luke Gale drop-goal sealed Leeds’ win after being 10-0 down at the break.
News of the mass withdrawal of players broke just 90 minutes before kick-off, with confirmation the match would go ahead as scheduled.
None of the players in question trained the day before the game and on Tuesday the whole Rhinos squad and backroom staff produced negative test results for the virus.
The remarkable comeback win in trying circumstances leaves Leeds fifth in the table, while Giants are eighth.
Matty English crashed over for the game’s first try after just three minutes and was sin-binned only 11 minutes later as the Giants conceded four penalties in quick succession.
Soon after Leeds appeared to have hit back, only for Ash Handley’s effort to be ruled out for a forward pass.
There was then a lengthy stoppage in play as hooker Adam O’Brien received medical attention and eventually left the field on a stretcher after suffering a head knock in a tackle.
Oliver Russell added to the Giants’ lead with two penalty kicks to make it 10-0 at the break as heavy downpours lashed Totally Wicked Stadium in St Helens.
Hurrell went over for Leeds’ first points of the game after the break, taking a pass from Brad Dwyer who did well to collect his own deflected kick near the line.
Briscoe’s try was converted by Gale to put Leeds ahead for the first time in the 55th minute, only for Russell to restore parity just after the hour mark.
Gale then missed with a penalty of his own and was off target with a drop-goal and had another effort blocked, while Giants’ Aidan Sezer failed to land a further effort as both sides desperately tried to reclaim a decisive lead.
Gale slotted the winner with six minutes remaining, denying Huddersfield – who had once-capped England international forward and former Queensland State of Origin representative Chris McQueen making his debut – a first win since the season’s restart following the pandemic-enforced break.
Leeds Rhinos: Myler; Handley, L Sutcliffe, Newman, T Briscoe; Lui, Gale; Oledzki, A Sutcliffe, Thompson, Cuthbertson, Seumanufagai, Leeming.
Replacements: Dwyer, Hurrell, Ferres, Donaldson.
Huddersfield Giants: Golding; McGillvary, Cudjoe, J Wardle, McIntosh; Russell, Sezer; English, O’Brien, Lawrence, Edwards, J Wardle, McQueen.
Replacements: Holmes, Hewitt, Wilson, Gavet.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (RFL)