Challenge Cup: Huddersfield Giants 24-8 Leeds Rhinos
Huddersfield (16) 24
- Lunt, Wardle, Cudjoe 2
- Brough 4
Leeds (4) 8
- Watkins 2
Huddersfield Giants's huge defensive effort ensured their Challenge Cup progress in a pulsating fifth-round victory against Leeds Rhinos.
Paul Anderson's side even survived the dismissal of centre Joe Wardle in the second-half to overcome the Rhinos attacking thrust.
The Giants scored through Shaun Lunt, Joe Wardle and a Leroy Cudjoe brace, with Danny Brough's two goals crucial.
Two tries from Kallum Watkins were Leeds' response.
Leeds have been finalists in the last three seasons but a fourth Wembley appearance was never in the offing once Huddersfield established themselves in an immensely competitive first half.
Anderson and Rhinos coach Brian McDermott were team-mates when the Bradford Bulls were 2000 winners, but it is the former who has kept alive hopes of a march to the final.
With the wind at their backs the Giants utilised the kicking of Brough to great advantage in the first period, although Leeds' indiscipline was crucial to their early platform.
Danny McGuire, so dangerous with the ball, coughed up a penalty for offside and then again when he leapt high onto Eorl Crabtree and Brough took advantage from the tee to put Giants two up.
Rhinos prop Kylie Leuluai was placed on report for a high shot on Luke Robinson, and the momentum continued to run against the visitors when Zak Hardaker spilled a Brough bomb and from the resulting set, Lunt crept in from dummy half to punish his former club.
However, Leeds showed their immense threat when they pounced on a loose pass after a huge Crabtree break got the hosts within a yard of the line and broke the length of the field to score through Watkins on the counter.
The pace of the game was relentless, and the end-to-end nature was summed up by the Giants' second try.
Cudjoe and Jermaine McGillvary broke away after picking up a loose Leeds ball close to their own line, and after the latter chipped in-field, the ball was worked left through Brough and Brett Ferres to release Wardle to score.
Giants struck again on the counter for a third time when Cudjoe showed tremendous pace on his 150th appearance to fend off Ryan Hall's chase and score.
Both McGuire for Leeds and Jamie Cording for Giants had a try ruled out at the end of the half as the home side went in 12 points up, but that lead was almost cut to eight immediately after the break when Watkins was fingertips away from touching down as Scott Grix dithered on a bouncing ball in-goal.
Leeds continued that intensity, forcing three sets on the Giants line but each time Paul Anderson's side survived, and eventually Brough kicked two extra points from a penalty for a Ryan Bailey shot on Ukuma Ta'ai.
Wardle's dismissal for landing a flurry of punches on Carl Ablett handed Leeds an advantage, and after both sides coughed up ball with handling errors, eventually Ablett and Watkins worked the space on the left to set up a nervy finale.
However, Cudjoe's interception try sealed the result that keeps the Giants on course and ends Leeds' Wembley run.
VIEWS FROM THE DRESSING ROOM
Huddersfield Giants head coach Paul Anderson said:
"We might have to play with 12 more often. I've not looked at it but, if he's punched him, he's probably got what he deserves. I'm happy for him. It's a real defining moment in Joe Wardle's career. People go out and niggle and he's stood up to it. I'm not happy with the sending-off but he's grown up a bit today.
"I thought it was a very good game, probably one you would have liked to have seen at Wembley. I don't think our game management was particularly great. We overplayed at times. When we played it simple, we created a lot of opportunities.
"Our defence was outstanding. When we were defending our tryline, I didn't think there was any point when we were in danger. It's a real good sign for us."
Leeds Rhinos head coach Brian McDermott said:
"It just shows you can get a bloke sent off and teams bar up. I actually felt it was going to work in their favour. I think 12 men can defend a tryline for 20 or 25 minutes.
"Huddersfield played better than we did. We made some uncharacteristic errors.
"Whilst I'm very disappointed, I've no real complaints. It was just a combination of a few things."
Huddersfield: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy; Brough, Robinson; Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Ferguson.
Replacements: Faiumu, Patrick, Ta'ai, Cording.
Leeds: Hardaker; Watkins, Ablett, Moon, Hall; McGuire, Sinfield; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Delaney, Achurch, Jones-Buchanan.
Replacements: McShane, Bailey, Kirke, Clarkson.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington)