Huddersfield Giants beat fellow Super League strugglers Widnes 28-18 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Friday night to move themselves off the foot of the table and above the Vikings into 9th.
The Giants took the lead in the 13th minute when Jake Wardle rose highest to claim a high ball to touch down and open the scoring on his debut.
Widnes got their first points of the game through Danny Craven, who was able to score from close range under pressure from the Huddersfield defence, with Tom Gilmore adding the extras to put the Vikings in the lead.
That would be the only time the away side would be in front over the course of the evening as just six minutes later, Sam Wood powered over the line to score, before converting his own try to give Huddersfield a 10-6 lead going into the break.
The home side were quickest out the blocks in the second half with Wardle getting his second of the night five minutes into the half, superbly taking a kick from fellow debutant Oliver Russell. Wood converted from the sidelines to extend the lead.
The Vikings wouldn’t go away however with Ryan Ince getting the next score, somehow grounding the ball in the corner after being given little room to manoeuvre. Gilmore’s kick was successful to bring the scores to within four.
Huddersfield start to pile the pressure on Widnes and it told as man-mountain Akuma Ta’ai barged over, doing what he does best, for his sides fourth try of the evening with Wood again adding the extras.
Wardle’s debut, however, didn’t go exactly to plan when he was sin binned for a dangerous tackle on Rhys Hanbury and the Vikings took advantage of the extra man as Gilmore darted over from dummy half.
Widnes had their tails up, but despite being a man down, Huddersfield scored the final try of the game after Alex Mellor was played through a gap by stand in half-back Jordan Turner to win the game for the Giants.
The two points moves Huddersfield off the the bottom of the table but they stay in the bottom four, just three points off Salford who suffered a 30 – 0 defeat away at Wigan.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
The kids were alright on the night
There was no doubting the injury problems Huddersfield had going into this fixture but the young players drafted in by Chris Thorman stood up and did themselves and the club proud.
Jake Wardle scoring twice on his debut, Sam Wood kicking four goals and scoring a try himself and Oliver Russell on debut too, not looking out of place in the half-back role. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.
Widnes are relegation fodder
Last season, Widnes were a Stefan Marsh tackle away from the Million Pound Game and possible relegation. Nothing changed in the off season for the Vikings and they are looking more and more like favourites to play in that fixture this year come the end of the season.
There is serious discontent among fans towards the board who are showing a lack of ambition for a club that is in serious danger of playing in the Championship next year.
Man Of The Match- Jake Wardle (Huddersfield Giants)
Wardle on his debut had a fantastic game in the #29 shirt. He got over the line twice for a well deserved brace, but was solid in defence as well.
He might have been sent to the sin bin late on to put a blemish on the night on a personal level but he can be proud with his performance and should have done enough to earn himself another start in the Challenge Cup at the weekend.
Huddersfield Giants – 28
Tries: Wardle (2), Wood, Ta’ai, Mellor
Goals: Wood (4)
Drop Goals: N/A
Widnes Vikings – 18
Tries: Craven, Ince, Gilmore
Goals: Gilmore (3)
Drop Goals: N/A
Huddersfield Giants: Rankin, McIntosh, Wood, Wardle, Mamo, Turner, Russell, Ikahihifo, O’Brien, Clough, Mellor, Ta’ai, Hinchcliffe.
Subs: Leeming, Lawrence, Smith, English
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Ince, Kienhorst, Runicman, Ah Van, Gilmore, Craven, Gerrard, White, Burke, Whitley, Wilde, Olbison.
Subs: Leuluai, Cahill, Wellington, Heremaia
Referee: Liam Moore