Rugby League

Ash Handley says Leeds Rhinos must improve on Great Escape win to topple Saints

Ash Handley knows Leeds have to improve significantly on their stunning Great Escape against Huddersfield to topple champions St Helens.

The Rhinos trailed 26-6 with just 12 minutes remaining against the Giants and Handley in the sin bin for dissent. But four tries in quick succession took the game to golden point extra-time – and scrum-half Luke Gale slotted the decisive drop goal.

It sparked scenes of jubilation among the Leeds players but Handley knows that a repeat performance against Saints on Sunday won’t be good enough.

The 24-year-old said: “We were off the boil for over 60 minutes and we know that. All of a sudden there was a bit of a chance and we got ourselves back into the game.

“Last year I don’t think we’d have won that game and it shows we’ve got a good group. But we know we’ve got a few things to fix up before we play Saints.

“We watched a bit of their Catalans game on our phones before, and the feedback afterwards was that the new six again suits them. We know we’ve got to get to grips with it.”

Handley was shown the yellow card for slamming the ball down in frustration after he was penalised for being offside on his own line. As he made his way to the touchline Huddersfield moved 20 points in front and looked certain winners against the 12-man Rhinos.

Handley said: “I was disappointed I’d let the side down and it was weird watching and waiting for the clock to go down.

“I’ve not seen the incident back but a few people have said I wasn’t offside and obviously at the time I didn’t agree with the ref’s decision.

“But even though I wasn’t on the pitch I thought we had enough to turn it around. Then when Galey scored with 12 minutes left I thought we had a chance if we could get on a roll.”

Match winner Gale then gave Handley extra belief just seconds after he returned to the field with the gap reduced to six points.

Handley added: “It was just as Alex Mellor scored and everybody was buzzing to try and get another. Galey said to me walking back to our half ‘this has got drop goal and me written all over it’.

“If that’s not confidence I don’t know what is. He just said to get him anywhere near and he’d kick it.”

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