Warrington 24 (6)
Tries: O’Brien, Atkins, Harrison (2)
Goals: O’Brien (4)
Huddersfield 24 (19)
Tries: Bailey, Ta’ai, Lunt, Broughton
Goals: Brough (3)
Drop Goals: Brough (2)
A last minute drop goal from Danny Brough secured a 24-24 draw for Huddersfield against Warrington in a thrilling game at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Tries from Chris Bailey, Ukuma Ta’ai, Shaun Lunt and Jodie Broughton had given the Giants a 23-6 lead with 25 minutes to go. However, Warrington fought back with tries from Ryan Atkins and a brace from Ben Harrison looking to have given the Wolves a comeback win. With less than a minute on the clock, a late Danny Brough drop goal ensured the game finished level.
The match got off to an explosive start from both sides, with the two teams knowing that a win would move them up to 2nd in the table. It was Warrington who broke the deadlock on the 18 minute mark, as Gareth O’Brien repaid the faith head coach Tony Smith had shown in him by throwing a dummy pass to deceive Luke Robinson before shrugging off Eorl Crabtree to open the scoring.
Five minutes later however, Huddersfield were back in it. A dangerous kick under the sticks from Robinson was missed by Michael Monaghan as Bailey took advantage to bring the scores level at 6-6.
Tries from Ta’ai and the influential Shaun Lunt extended the Giants’ advantage to 18-6, before Brough had the intelligence to opt for a drop goal on the stroke of half time to ensure Huddersfield finished the half 19-6 ahead.
Just 3 minutes in to the 2nd half the Giants looked like they would run away with the 2 points as a try from Jodie Broughton extended their lead further. A kick from Richie Myler on the Huddersfield 20 metre line was collected by Lunt who found Broughton. The winger had the speed to leave Warrington’s chasers in his wake as he ran 80 metres to go over. Brough missed the conversion however, leaving the score at 23-6.
If the result appeared to be a foregone conclusion, the Wolves had other ideas. A grubber kick over the line from O’Brien found Ryan Atkins who went over for a vital try in starting the comeback.
When Ben Harrison went over 5 minutes later, the fightback was definitely on, and it was Harrison again who put Warrington ahead on 65 minutes. Four Giants defenders were unable to stop the Warrington forward from going over the line, although the video referee pondered for just under 5 minutes whether or not to award the try. Benefit of the doubt was given, and Warrington led 24-23.
On 73 minutes, Rhys Evans appeared to have gone over in the corner and secured the 2 points for the Wolves. However, a heroic challenge from Leroy Cudjoe when Evans was in mid-air resulted in the Wolves winger dropping the ball as he dived over in the corner. Evans suffered a serious head injury upon his landing, and the game stopped for over 5 minutes as the incident was dealt with. This gave the Giants the opportunity to regroup as they looked for one last push to swing the momentum of the game back in their favour.
With one minute left, Cudjoe read the play brilliantly in order to intercept a pass from Michael Monaghan giving Huddersfield the possession in the Warrington half. A few plays later Lunt found Brough who sailed over his 2nd drop goal of the evening, levelling the scores at 24 apiece.
Whilst a draw was a fair result on reflection, both sides will feel like it was a point lost rather than a point gained. The result moves the Wolves up to 3rd and the Giants up to 4th, both on 33 points and level with Wigan who are still to play this weekend. Both sides will lose their top 4 position if Leeds and Castleford win this weekend.