Huddersfield beat Catalans 26-25 in a hugely dramatic game. Here’s our verdict…
Huddersfield Giants came from behind to win a hugely dramatic game with Catalans Dragons 26-25.
Olly Russell’s late penalty earned the Giants a fifth consecutive Super League victory, and put them three points clear of their opponents.
Catalans had made a fantastic start with two tries inside the first nine minutes. Josh Drinkwater’s grubber into the area was touched down by Brayden Wiliame to open the scoring, before a chip from the scrum-half was claimed by Vincent Duport for a second try.
Drinkwater made it a hat-trick of try assists when his low kick was claimed by David Mead, and at that point it looked like the scoreline could get ugly for the Giants.
However they took their chance when back-to-back penalties took them up the field, as Alex Mellor ran a good line to go over. They were aggrieved soon after when a blatant obstruction denied them another score but the referee waved play on.
The Dragons strengthened their lead again when Drinkwater forced a drop out and quick play sent Remi Casty through a large gap in the defence to score under the posts.
Huddersfield narrowed the gap to 10 at the break though, with Jordan Turner sending Darnell McIntosh into the left corner before Leroy Cudjoe’s great offload sent Jermaine McGillvary in at the other side.
After a cagey start to the second-half the Giants started to build momentum, and after Olly Russell forced a drop out Adam O’Brien dummied and crashed over for a deserved try.
They were finally level with 15 minutes left on the clock, as McGillvary intercepted a Drinkwater pass close to the Giants line and ran the full 90m to score, with Russell’s conversion squaring things up.
Catalans were the brighter following that try, and after one drop goal attempt crashed off the post Tony Gigot slotted the ball between the posts to put the Dragons a point up with six minutes to go.
They then mindlessly conceded a penalty 20m out, and Russell held his nerve to edge the Giants in front. Ben Jullien thought he had won it from the restart but the try was ruled out, and only after another knock-on a metre from the line was the win safe.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Fans treated to great match
Ken Davy made the game free of charge to get a higher crowd into the John Smith’s Stadium, but the 9,121 in attendance were silenced in the first 20 minutes as Catalans built a healthy lead.
The Giants grew into the game though and provided some great entertainment as they made their comeback, with the dramatic final minutes sure to live long in the memory of any new fans.
Drinkwater the key for Catalans
Drinkwater was the difference when the two sides met in the Challenge Cup a fortnight ago, and it looked like he would be again with three try assists to help his side to an early 18-0 lead.
However when he started making errors and struggled to influence in the same way, Catalans lost their way completely. His addition has made them a better side but there is a worry they may rely on him a little too much.
Man of the Match – Jermaine McGillvary (Huddersfield Giants)
Some eyebrows were raised when Jermaine McGillvary was included in the England squad for next week’s Denver test ahead of more In-form wingers, but he provided a timely reminder of his qualities with two tries.
The second was spectacular, showing that at 30 he still has all of his pace as he raced the length of the field to score.
Huddersfield Giants 26
Tries: Mellor, McIntosh, McGillvary (2), O’Brien
Goals: Russell (3)
Drop Goals: n/a
Catalans Dragons 25
Tries: Wiliame, Duport, Mead, Casty
Goals: Drinkwater (4)
Drop Goals: Gigot
Huddersfield: Rankin; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, McIntosh; Turner, Russell; Lawrence, Leeming, English; Mellor, Murphy, Hinchcliffe.
Interchanges: Ikahihifo, Ferguson, Smith, O’Brien.
Catalans: Gigot; Duport, Mead, Wiliame, Tierney; Bird, Drinkwater; Simon, McIlorum, Moa; Jullien, Garcia, Casty.
Interchanges: Anderson, Bousquet, Baitieri, Edwards.
Referee: Gareth Hewer