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Mac relieved after tense finish
Brown rues crucial missed second-half opportunity
There were some nerves. Huddersfield can score tries, they are a pretty potent team with the ball, so when they had momentum I was nervous. They pretty much threw everything at us. It was more about Huddersfield's desire to get to a Grand Final
Quotes of the week
Leeds coach Brian McDermott admitted he was a nervous man in the closing stages of his side's 34-28 victory over Huddersfield in the Super League preliminary semi-final at the Galpharm Stadium.
The Rhinos led 34-12 on 57 minutes, but the Giants roared back to within a converted score with six minutes still left on the clock.
"There were some nerves," said McDermott. "Huddersfield can score tries, they are a pretty potent team with the ball, so when they had momentum I was nervous.
"They pretty much threw everything at us. It was more about Huddersfield's desire to get to a Grand Final."
Leeds' 19-year-old centre Zak Hardaker grabbed a hat-trick of tries and McDermott admits he has probably done enough to keep his place in the side for next week's semi-final at St Helens or Warrington, even if Carl Ablett and Kallum Watkins return from injury.
"He's grown in that position," added McDermott. "He didn't look out of place straight away and gradually believed in that position a bit more each week. Tonight he showed just what he could do."
While Leeds are on a roll, with four straight wins since their Challenge Cup final defeat, fast-fading Huddersfield's season came to an abrupt end with an eighth defeat in 10 games.
There were times when the Giants still looked in shock from their 47-0 mauling by Warrington a week ago but they they twice produced fightbacks to close the gap to six points and did enough in the end to restore their pride.
Giants coach Nathan Brown felt the turning point came early in the second half when, having fought their way back from 16-0 down, the Giants had a chance to go in front when Danny Brough dropped a final pass from Leroy Cudjoe with the line open.
"At 16-12 we put the pass down when we were going behind the posts and they put back-to-back tries on us," said Brown.
"Towards the end of the year we've lost a bit of resolve and that probably showed in that crucial stage tonight."
Despite their dismal finish to the season, Brown insists Huddersfield are close to being contenders for the top prizes.
"We just need to try to go from a top-four side to get that little bit better," he said. "We all need to look at a few things and need to try and advance a touch.
"We've been in the top four three years in a row. We haven't delivered a trophy but we're competing hard and I'm proud of all the players. A lot of our younger players did terrific tonight."
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Super League Table
|9||Hull K R||27||23|
|10||Salford Red Devils||27||23|
|13||Bradford Bulls *||27||10|
|Saturday 11th October|
|St Helens 14 - 6 Wigan|
|Friday 3rd October|
|Wigan 16 - 12 Warrington|
|Thursday 2nd October|
|St Helens 30 - 12 Catalan Dragons|
|Friday 26th September|
|Huddersfield 16 - 18 Catalan Dragons|
|Thursday 25th September|
|Castleford 14 - 30 Warrington|
|Saturday 20th September|
|Leeds 20 - 24 Catalan Dragons|
|Warrington 22 - 19 Widnes|
|Friday 19th September|
|St Helens 41 - 0 Castleford|
|Thursday 18th September|
|Wigan 57 - 4 Huddersfield|
|Sunday 14th September|
|Wakefield 18 - 42 Hull K R|
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