A LAST-MINUTE drop goal from Thomas Hemingway sealed a stunning 33-32 victory for Huddersfield Giants over Leeds Rhinos in a thrilling opening Junior Academy grading game at Laund Hill.
In a match full of drama, Huddersfield fought back from an early 12-0 deficit to claim the scalp of one of the Academy competition's strongest sides.
And at the heart of the success was Super League squad man Hemingway.
The 18-year-old was always in the thick of the action.
But it was in the final 10 minutes that he came into his own to seal victory for his side.
With 10 minutes left, the goalkicking stand-off helped nudge his side back in front by grubber-kicking ahead for Peter Robinson to pounce.
Then after Leeds had regained the lead with a James Endersby try in the 74th minute to make it 32-30, Hemingway calmly followed up by landing a 76th-minute penalty before slotting over a drop goal with a minute remaining.
It was a fantastic end to a dazzling contest in which there were several top Giants displays.
Obviously, the heroics of Hemingway caught the eye, but with the likes of Simon George and Joe Flaherty producing outstanding efforts and Ashley Johnson and Simon Perry looking highly impressive on debut, it was a win Huddersfield thoroughly deserved.
Yet it was the visitors from Headingley who set the early pace, with Liam Halliwell completing a hat trick inside 25 minutes as the Rhinos raced into a 16-6 lead.
Fortunately, the Giants stayed in the hunt and by half-time the sides were locked at 16-16.
Simon George opened the home side's account with a try midway through the half after good work from Paul Mennell.
And by the break, Luke George had twice crossed for scores, with the excellent Hemingway landing two of the conversions.
The contest remained just as close after the break, with Graham Dobbs and Danny Garside giving the Giants the lead before Leeds fought back to nudge 28-26 ahead with 10 tense minutes still to play.
But there were still several more twists in the tale before Hemingway sealed the outcome in dramatic fashion.
The victory already puts the Giants in a strong position to qualify for the Academy Championship, with fixtures at Castleford and Bradford and at home to London to play.
* Thomas Hemingway will meet the fans at the Sporting Pride Shop on Thursday (4-5pm).