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Huddersfield Giants hold off Castleford in Super League to maintain impressive early-season form

Ricky Leutele goes over for a quick-fire 15-minute hat-trick to guide the Huddersfield Giants to a fourth win in five Super League games as they maintained their excellent start to the season, despite a fightback from Castleford Tigers

Last Updated: 12/03/22 5:56pm

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Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Huddersfield Giants and Castleford Tigers

Highlights of the Betfred Super League match between Huddersfield Giants and Castleford Tigers

Huddersfield held off a tremendous fightback by Castleford to maintain their impressive early-season form with a remarkable 36-24 victory at the John Smith’s Stadium, where four players spent time in the sin bin.

The Tigers came from 18-0 down at half-time to go in front with four tries in 18 minutes but centre Ricky Leutele grabbed a 15-minute hat-trick to guide the Giants to a fourth win in five Super League games.

The result lifted Huddersfield up to second in the table but leaves Castleford next to bottom with only Toulouse below them after winning just one of their opening five games under coach Lee Radford.

Despite the abundance of tries, the talking point will be the flurry of yellow cards, which maintained the theme of the season so far.

Castleford were boosted by the return of prop Liam Watts from suspension while the Giants benefitted from the return of hooker Danny Levi, who maintained his sparkling start to his Super League career.

The Giants looked slick from the start and took the lead after seven minutes when Levi’s short ball got prop Owen Trout crashing over for the opening try and Will Pryce kicked the first of his six goals from seven attempts.

They doubled the lead after 14 minutes when second rower Chris McQueen caught Oliver Russell’s high kick and put skipper Luke Yates over for a try and they ought to have scored again when centre Leroy Cudjoe gathered Tui Lolohea’s kick but fumbled the ball over the line.

Huddersfield had genuine claims for a penalty try when McQueen was pulled back by Jake Trueman as he chased a kick but had to be satisfied with a penalty, which Pryce kicked to make it 14-0.

Trueman was sin-binned for the offence by referee James Child and the home side took advantage of the extra man by working England winger Jermaine McGillvary over for a third try seven minutes before the break.

Huddersfield also found themselves down to 12 men when Levi was shown a yellow card for a late tackle on loose forward Joe Westerman and Castleford made it count early in the second half when Trueman finished off a break by substitute prop Watts to score their first try.

Gareth O’Brien added the conversion and the deficit was down to just six points on 50 minutes when centre Mahe Fonua demonstrated exceptional strength to force his way over the line despite the attention of three defenders.

The appeared to swing decisively towards the Tigers on 54 minutes when McGillvary became the third player to go in the bin, for a late tackle on O’Brien, and the visitors took full advantage by running in two tries in four minutes to take the lead.

Winger Greg Eden, one of five ex-Huddersfield players in the Tigers ranks, scored where McGillvary would have been defending and then made a break for Trueman to score his second try.

O’Brien’s fourth conversion put his side 24-18 in front but the 63rd-minute sin-binning of George Lawler for a dangerous tackle levelled up the numbers and enabled Huddersfield to even it up on the scoreboard as Leutele sliced through for his first try.

The Giants maintained the pressure and it paid off eight minutes later when Leutele added a copybook second try and he completed his hat-trick three minutes from the end.

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