Four years ago arguably the most memorable try in Leeds’ modern-day history came on this ground, when Ryan Hall broke free in the dying seconds against Huddersfield to secure both the League Leader’s Shield and leg two of a historic treble for the Rhinos. It was hard not to be reminded of that moment here when Hall’s successor, Ash Handley, did exactly the same after 50 minutes – and while it will not secure silverware for Leeds, it could yet be worth far more than that.
The eight-time Super League champions have produced performances ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous this season. This was not only in the former category, but perhaps their best of 2019 so far as they took a significant step towards survival here. Handley’s try – which made it 28-0 in Leeds’ favour – seemed the decisive moment, but in reality, the Rhinos had probably already seen off a lacklustre Huddersfield before half-time.
Defeat here for either side could yet prove to be disastrous in the run-in, and while Leeds are now four points clear of bottom-placed London, a victory for the Broncos on Sunday could see them draw level with Huddersfield, who were dreadful here. Quickfire tries from Adam Cuthbertson and Tom Briscoe put the visitors firmly in control, before the first of two tries from the outstanding Konrad Hurrell made it 16-0.
Hurrell would later claim his second in typically devastating fashion, the Tongan international barging over several tiring Huddersfield defenders – but not before the Rhinos had put this contest to bed. Brad Dwyer’s instinctive finish on the stroke of half-time and Rhyse Martin’s third goal made it 22-0.
Huddersfield simply had to score first after half-time to stand any chance. The fact they instead threw a wayward pass which Handley collected to race the length of the field summed up their night. Hurrell’s second rubbed further salt in the wounds before wonderful tries by Liam Sutcliffe and Handley capped their biggest win this season.
Wakefield, like Huddersfield, remain two points clear of the relegation zone after suffering another defeat, this time at St Helens, who could win the League Leaders’ Shield on Saturday should Warrington lose at Catalans, after they beat Trinity 26-6.
Huddersfield McIntosh; McGillvary, I Senior, Wardle, L Senior; Gaskell, Frawley; Walne, Leeming, English, Ta’ai, Mellor, Lawrence.
Interchange O’Brien, Roberts, Matagi, Murphy.
Leeds Walker; Briscoe, Newman, Hurrell, Handley; Lui, Myler; Cuthbertson, Lunt, Seumanufagai, Ferres, Martin, Merrin.
Interchange Dwyer, Singleton, Donaldson, Sutcliffe.
Tries Cuthbertson, Briscoe, Hurrell 2, Dwyer, Handley 2, Sutcliffe. Goals Martin 6.
Referee R Hicks Attendance 6,809.