Leeds 20-16 Huddersfield

Zak Hardaker

Leeds had lost their first three Super League games

Leeds secured their first Super League win of the season after the defending champions beat Huddersfield.

Joel Moon was first to cross but the Giants hit back through Danny Brough and Jermaine McGillvary.

The Rhinos levelled when Liam Sutcliffe stormed over and Jordan Lilley converted, before Michael Lawrence instantly restored Huddersfield’s lead.

Jimmy Keinhorst stretched to score and Lilley secured Leeds’ first Super League victory from the tee.

The champions have struggled in 2016 so far, having lost in the league to Warrington, Widnes and Catalans and suffered a heavy defeat by North Queensland Cowboys in the World Club Challenge.

Brian McDermott’s side, who have also suffered injuries to several key players, including captain Danny McGuire and talismanic winger Tom Briscoe, next face a trip to Wigan, who they defeated in last season’s Grand Final.

Daniel Smith hobbled off early on for an injury-hit Huddersfield, while Moon and Ash Handley failed to complete the game for Leeds.

The result sees the pointless Giants drop to the bottom of the table, with Leeds moving to ninth.

Analysis from BBC Sport’s Matt Newsum

The shock of both sides lying in the league’s bottom two before kick-off added extra spice to an already passionate local derby.

Two of Super League’s recent high achievers were already without key personnel through injuries, and Huddersfield will have been further frustrated by the loss of Dan Smith early on.

Despite tricky conditions, the game was played at a furious pace but peppered with errors, while Danny Brough and former Giants team-mate Brett Ferres were involved in several spats throughout as tempers flared.

However, Leeds weathered the visitors pressure to finish the game in the ascendancy and pick up their first points.

Leeds Rhinos boss Brian McDermott:

“I didn’t think the half-backs did anything special although ultimately Jordan Lilley’s kicking and Liam Sutcliffe’s try probably got us the game.

“But it shouldn’t have been that hard. It was two committed teams who were almost trying too hard at times.

“I think it’s too early in the season for me to be saying, ‘A win’s a win’. I don’t think it’s about that. We need to string some passages of play together that we’re working on but it isn’t happening on game day.

“I don’t think we’re lacking confidence or are overanxious, I just think we’re desperate. I thought we worked our rocks off defensively but were disjointed in attack.”

Huddersfield Giants head coach Paul Anderson:

“I think we gifted it away. We talked at half-time about completing some sets – you complete to compete.

“But we gave a sheer weight of possession away to Leeds who have got some good players.

“We were on the wrong end of an 8-1 penalty count in the second half which was embarrassing, not from our point of view but from the officials’.

“They want the ruck quick then they want it slow – they just need to make their minds up. It’s pathetic at the moment.

“We have to be disappointed but the reality of it is we’ll be fine. That wasn’t a bottom-of-the-league performance.”

Leeds: Hardaker, Handley, Watkins, Moon, Hall, Sutcliffe, Lilley, Galloway, Burrow, Cuthbertson, Delaney, Ferres, Singleton.

Substitutes: Baldwinson, Keinhorst, Mullally, Walters.

Huddersfield: Murphy, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Foster, Connor, Brough, Rapira, Hinchcliffe, Smith, Ta’ai, Roberts, Patrick.

Substitutes: J. Johnson, Leeming, Mason, Dickinson.

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