Fans went ballistic after seeing Southgate at Headingley rather than the Etihad
GARETH Southgate found himself watching a tight, tense clash that will not live long in the memory – and a Manchester side was nowhere to be seen.
The England football boss opted to honour an invite from the Leeds Rhinos Foundation that is believed to have been committed to months ago, before the Manchester derby was rearranged for last night.
SunSport understands the link comes from daughter Mia’s spell at now defunct netball side Yorkshire Jets, which worked closely with the rugby league club.
So rather than get a close glimpse of what the likes of Marcus Rashford and Raheem Sterling are capable of on a massive occasion, he saw first hand what talents the likes of Kallum Watkins and Ryan Hall could produce.
And fans were not happy, slamming him online without knowing the full facts.
Some even questioned whether Southgate’s choice means he is suitable to manage England – even though it was an arrangement far more long-standing than the football match.
And like Leeds, Southgate was left disappointed as Scotland international Dale Ferguson’s 58th minute effort helped earn Huddersfield a surprise 31-12 win in a game dominated by penalties.
The Giants were in mourning before the game after Jennifer Davy, wife of owner Ken, died suddenly but Rick Stone’s men were determined to get a much-needed win as Leeds chased top spot.
With Southgate in the stands at Headingley, Leeds’ Watkins and Hall along with Huddersfield’s Jermaine McGillvary warmed up for next week’s England Test against Samoa in Sydney.
The Giants never really looked like scoring early on – the same could not be said of Leeds as Matt Parcell dummied and strolled over the line.
However, Jake Mamo pounced from Alex Mellor’s kick and Kruise Leeming stole over from dummy half to turn the scoreboard around.
Joel Moon cashed in as youngster Jack Walker’s ball deflected off Darnell McIntosh and Danny McGuire stole through the Giants’ defence on 52 minutes, only to be pulled back for a soft obstruction.
But Ferguson’s score was given to help heal some of the wounds from last week’s Challenge Cup humbling by Swinton.
Youngster McIntosh pounced after Adam Cuthbertson spilled the ball to put Huddersfield in command, with Danny Brough’s drop goal and fifth conversion after Oliver Roberts’ try rounding things off.
All that left Leeds boss Brian McDermott downhearted and frustrated with some of the calls from referee Chris Kendall.
He said: “I give Huddersfield a lot of credit, they were tenacious and showed a lot of endeavour but it wasn’t a great game, we were really poor.
“Huddersfield deserved to win but I wouldn’t put it down to a great performance from them. We were trying to invent plays.
“And a lot of penalties were awarded for both teams for things I’m not sure about. At the moment, there’s not enough consistency with what is an infringement.”
where were ya?
England boss Gareth Southgate skipped Manchester derby to watch rugby league clash between Leeds and Huddersfield
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