Huddersfield Giants won the Infirmary Cup this afternoon, with a professional performance against an Halifax side who can hold their heads up high after a spirited performance. Danny Brough proved why so many people rate him highly, a game management performance of the highest order. But it wasn’t all squeaky clean from the Scotland international, he spent some time in the sin bin after taking matters into his own hands when Halifax prop Mitch Cahalane left Craig Kopczak on the floor after a belting tackle.
Things got off to a good start for the visitors when Jodie Broughton got the first try of the game, following a knock-on from Halifax full-back Rikki Sheriffe. Brough converted the score for 6-0. Halifax responded in a good manner though, offseason signing Matt Place directed a kick to the corner which was gathered by Steve Tyrer, who despite trying to ground the ball, was held up.
The Fax fans had reason to be enthusiastic about their new signings, especially when Cahalane put a monster shot on Kopczak. Brough then took exception, and the two teams collided resulting in both Cahalane and Brough being sent to the sin bin. 15 minutes had passed and both teams were performing well for an healthy crowd at The Shay.
Good scrambling defence from Halifax was needed when Joe Wardle passed to Broughton. Two tackles later and the Giants had added to their lead, thanks to Jermaine McGillvary who got the better of Tommy Saxton in the air. A Jamie Ellis kick was precise and well measured, a debut assist for the new signing from Castleford. Ellis couldn’t add the conversion from the corner, in the absence of regular goal kicker Brough.
Consecutive sets of six in the Huddersfield half put Halifax in with a shout of getting on the board. Firstly, James Saltonstall dabbed a grubber towards Aaron Murphy who couldn’t pick up the ball without knocking on. In the second set of six, Matt Place put the ball high into the Halifax sky, Saltonstall knocked the ball backwards for Broughton to knock on. Matt Place’s good work was to be undone by himself, a sharp ball intending to split the Huddersfield defence was collected by Leroy Cudjoe, who ran 80 metres before passing to the supporting Wardle for a great counter-attacking try. Brough and Cahalane had returned to the field shortly before the try, meaning Brough had his kicking responsibilities back, so therefore converted. Richard Marshall will have been disappointed that his side’s pressure didn’t amount to any points, his disappointment was to be heightened in the next five minutes.
Great play from the Huddersfield forwards meant that Halifax were being rolled down the field with ease, the heavy yards the Giants had gained meant that the influential Brough had a platform to work with. It was the the stand-off who assisted new signing Jack Hughes to his first try for the Fartowners, the on-loan Wigan second rower will have been happy to get on the scoresheet, especially after coming so close in the opening stages. Brough missed the conversion, 20-0 to Paul Anderson’s side after half an hour. Two consecutive tries became three when the Giants scored a great support play try. It was Broughton who initially made the break, the ball went through two pairs of hands before Jamie Ellis scored his first try in the claret and gold. Brough added the extras.
Halifax were having no luck in attack as knock-ons were halting their flow. The Giants line defence was superior in this tie, showcasing the difference between Super League and Championship. The hosts deserved to get a try on the board, mainly due to sheer effort. The blue and whites did get the score a minute before halftime, a Place grubber landed in the hands of Ross Divorty who applied the downward pressure. Tyrer converted as the hooter sounded, 26-6 to the Giants at the break.
Fax ringed the changes for the second half, Miles Greenwood, Scott Murrell and Andy Bracek all came on at half-time. Jake Connor replaced Aaron Murphy for Huddersfield. Greenwood’s first test was to deal with a bomb from Brough, something the new signing from Batley didn’t do as he knocked on to the delight of the Huddersfield following. Eorl Crabtree went close from the following set, this was before Shaun Lunt knocked on as good line defence from the Championship side prevailed. The experienced Scott Murrell was forced into making an error as he looked to get his team out of their own half. The knock-on left the Giants in a great attacking position, one they wouldn’t squander. Wardle was the beneficiary of a Brough grubber, once again the standoff was causing the Halifax defence a whole heap of trouble. Brough converted the first try of the second period.
Whilst the Giants were dominating, Halifax weren’t helping their own cause by giving away some stupid penalties. On the first tackle, after the Wardle try, Tryer gave away a penalty for holding down. Fortunately for the hosts, a poor Jamie Ellis bomb made sure that Huddersfield wouldn’t capitalise on Fax’s ill-discipline. The next score went to scrum-half Ellis who impressed for the visitors with some slick touches. Jake Connor made a nice half-break which set the Giants up, swift passing down the left side benefited Ellis who nudged off a few wannabe tacklers to touch down. Brough made sure the four points turned into six, 38-6 Giants
The Ellis try seemed to bring Halifax into the game a bit more, Ben Johnston was his tricky self and Luke Ambler, who came on for future fan favourite Mitch Cahalane, ran hard and gained solid yards. The sin-bin welcomed two more players after referee Joe Cobb had given a penalty to the visitors for a hand in the ruck. Jake Connor seemed to have a swing at Richard Moore who fancied a go back, both had a ten minute breather and the penalty still stood. An unlikely interception from Murrell occurred when Brough played a lazy ball out to the left, Greenwood supported the standoff well but was caught by the onrushing defenders. The set ended when Gareth Potts’ grubber found its way into touch.
The game ended with Fax looking the most likely to score. Consecutive sets on the Giants line came to nothing, which was pretty much a synopsis for most of the game from an Halifax attacking perspective. The final score – Halifax RLFC 6-38 Huddersfield Giants