Huddersfield’s play-off hopes look over after a shock defeat to Wakefield. Here’s our verdict…
Huddersfield Giants’ play-off hopes look to be over after a shock 42-16 home defeat to Wakefield Trinity.
Huddersfield made an impressive start with the forward pack strong with and without the ball, and their efforts were rewarded when the first try went their way. Danny Brough’s cut-out pass found Leroy Cudjoe, who selflessly passed to Jermaine McGillvary in the corner to score.
Brough added the conversion to move up to fourth on the list of all-time Super League points scorers.
The half-backs was involved in the second try six minutes later, with his pass getting a touch off a Wakefield player, but Ukuma Ta’ai picked up and drove inside through the defence for an impressive try on his 200th career appearance.
Back-to-back penalties put Wakefield in a great position to respond, and they did just that with a good move left that finished with Bill Tupou’s offload for Tom Johnstone to run into the corner, with Ryan Hampshire converting the first of his seven out of seven.
Trinity kept the momentum and Johnstone thought he had scored again when he went into the corner, but the winger was judged to have been held up by the Huddersfield defence as the sides went into the break at 12-6.
The Giants made the perfect start to the second half with a try inside three minutes. After Jordan Rankin was held up, they moved the ball left and a great Ta’ai offload allowed Lee Gaskell to play Aaron Murphy, moved to the wing after an injury to Darnell McIntosh, into the corner.
Brough couldn’t add the extras, and that meant that their lead was reduced to four points when Wakefield’s response came out of the blue. Johnstone intercepted a pass and was away instantly, running the full 60m for his second try.
Huddersfield had to do their share of try-line defending, but it was another long-distance try that gave Trinity the lead for the first time in the match. Reece Lyne slipped in Ben Jones-Bishop down the right wing, and he kicked back infield for Hampshire to chase and ground.
It got even better for the visitors three minutes later, when following a break down the left, Jacob Miller kicked across the pitch and Jordan Turner fumbled the ball, allowing Scott Grix to score on his return to action.
Wakefield looked to smartly see the game out, and the result was all but safe with eleven minutes to go when Hampshire played a perfect chip over Murphy and into the hands of Jones-Bishop to score.
With Huddersfield tiring there was no let-up from their West Yorkshire rivals, as Johnstone sped away down the left and passed inside to Miller to run in.
That was then followed by a break through the defence by Hampshire, who found Grix to finish off for his second try and Trinity’s seventh of a successful evening.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Top four looks decided
Huddersfield remained an outside bet for the top four coming into this one, but with a six point deficit and vastly inferior points difference to Warrington it looks like the play-offs have certainly been decided now.
The Giants started the match well enough, with the forwards making an impact and a 12-0 lead fully deserved.
Injuries took their toll though as they lost Darnell McIntosh, Colton Roche and Jermaine McGillvary, and the lack of options left them a shadow of their usual selves in the second period as tiredness badly hit.
Trinity show what they can do
Wakefield are possibly the most frustrating side in Super League – with a massive forward pack and some of the most skilful backs in the league, they can certainly be challenging for the play-offs and trophies if only they were more consistent.
They showed what they are capable of here, with the two wingers Tom Johnstone and Ben Jones-Bishop in red-hot form, along with full-back Scott Grix who got two tries on his return to action.
They punished a wounded Huddersfield right to the end, and if they put on more displays like this one and have more confidence next season, the top four is a realistic aim.
Man of the Match – Tom Johnstone
Johnstone was the standout star as he grabbed his 19th and 20th tries of the season, and possibly should have had a hat-trick too.
The Giants struggled to deal with his pace in first half as he gave his side the impetus they needed, and it got no better after the break as a tired defence kept seeing a clean pair of heels from the left winger.
Huddersfield Giants 16
Tries: McGillvary, Ta’ai, Murphy
Goals: Brough (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Wakefield Trinity 42
Tries: Johnstone (2), Hampshire, Grix (2), Jones-Bishop, Miller
Goals: Hampshire (7)
Drop Goals: n/a
Huddersfield: Rankin; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Turner, McIntosh; Gaskell, Brough; Ta’ai, O’Brien, Matagi; Mellor, Murphy, Hinchcliffe.
Interchanges: Leeming, Lawrence, Clough, Roche.
Wakefield: Grix; Jones-Bishop, Lyne, Tupou, Johnstone; Miller, Hampshire; Huby, Wood, Arona; Ashurst, Batchelor, Crowther.
Interchanges: Randell, Horo, Pauli, Hirst.
Referee: Gareth Hewer