Gale’s golden-point drop goal seals Leeds recovery
Luke Gale’s dramatic drop goal capped a remarkable fightback in which Leeds overturned Huddersfield’s 20-point lead to seal a goldenpoint extra-time win.
The England scrum-half was released from the Rhinos’ vaunted academy as a teenager and forced to reinvent himself at Doncaster before making his way back into the Super League ranks with London.
Further stints with Bradford and Castleford underlined Gale’s class and he could not resist the opportunity to rejoin Leeds, his hometown club, at the start of this season.
Three minutes into extra time, the 32-year-old held his nerve to send a well-flighted one-pointer between the posts to settle matters and cap a stunning return for Super League after its 20-week hiatus.
And how Richard Agar’s side celebrated. They leapt about like wild men and, after a difficult couple of seasons in which Brian McDermott and Dave Furner were sacked, are on the up again.
After five rounds, they stand at the Super League summit and can start dreaming of adding to their record eight Super League titles.
Head coach Agar said: “The game wholly went to show that momentum can be key.
“We felt Huddersfield came out and smacked us in the mouth, and I
Rising again: Leeds players celebrate after Luke Gale’s kick (below) clinched victory thought we didn’t respond well at all. We threw caution to the wind but I didn’t think there was enough time to come back.
“But Luke has done what he has done before and I’m pleased to get the win. We showed a never-saydie attitude and real spirit.”
The match, although staged at Headingley, was technically a home match for Huddersfield as fixtures are played as double or triple headers at the same ground.
Louis Senior and a Darnell McIntosh double put Huddersfield 14-6 up despite Konrad Hurrell’s try for Leeds in a match played under new rules designed to speed the game up.
McIntosh added his third and Senior his second after half-time to establish a 26-6 lead with 18 minutes remaining.
Leeds somehow clawed it back with Gale, Luke Briscoe, Alex Mellor and Hurrell tries to take the game to extra time, where Gale proved the hero.
One concern for Leeds was James Donaldson, who was withdrawn on a stretcher with a lower back injury.
Huddersfield would have gone top with victory and their head coach, Simon Woolford, could not hide his frustration.
He said: “Our discipline went out of the window in that last 15 minutes. We had enough opportunities to put that game to bed but we weren’t good enough to do it.”
Huddersfield Giants A Golding; L Senior, J Wardle, J Turner, D McIntosh; L Gaskell, A Sezer; J Gavet, A O’Brien, M English, K Edwards, S Wood, M Lawrence. Replacements T Holmes, O Wilson, S Matagi, A Murphy. Leeds Rhinos R Myler; L Briscoe, H Newman, K Hurrell, A Handley; L Gale, R Lui; A Seumanufagai, B Dwyer, M Oledzki, A Mellor, R Martin, M Prior.
Replacements C Smith, J Donaldson, A Cuthbertson,
K Leeming. Referee Robert Hicks