St. Helens suffered successive defeats for the first time this season as the Giants continued their charge for the top four. Here’s our verdict…
Simon Woolford’s side produced a solid first half display to race out to a 16-0 lead which proved ultimately too much for St. Helens to claw back, with the final score at the Totally Wicked Stadium 16-12.
Much like last week’s semi-final clash, St. Helens endured a dismal first half which saw them make six handling errors in the first ten minutes, gifting the Giants field position and territory.
Danny Brough proved to be the master craftsman on the field playing a big part in the Giants tries, spreading the ball to the left edge for Darnell McIntosh to cross twice either side of Alex Mellor’s barging effort.
However, there looked to be a little spark in the Saints as Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook broke through offloaded to Lomax who in turn found Barba for his 27th try of the season just before the break.
Saints would grow into the game from there, launching more attacks as Lomax broke once again only to lose his footing at the vital moment.
Luke Thompson would be the lifeline for the Saints added a powerful try to an impressive performance, Danny Richardson added the conversion to make it a four-point game.
However, Saints offered little variation in attack when needed and the desperate scrambling defence of the Giants was admirable as they hung on to a 16-12 Victory.
WHAT WE’VE LEARNED
Time to refresh for Holbrook?
Justin Holbrook has lived by the ‘if your best players are fit, they will play’ mantra this season and due to the lack of injuries, this means many players have had little rest.
Last night showed a lethargic and apathetic performance at times which suggests the players are feeling the burn. As the Saints sit pretty at the top of the table, results are not a desperate need getting the players firing is.
With players such as Matty Smith and James Bentley seeing little game time, it could be an opportunity to rest a few players and give them the kick they need.
Don’t count out the Giants just yet
Simon Woolford warned us the Huddersfield Giants will not be giving up, saying “we’ve all agreed to kick on and not put our cue in the rack, let’s see how far it takes us.”
With next to no pressure on the Giants to perform it’s time for the players to simply enjoy their rugby and keep their momentum going from the latter stages of the season.
It’s a big ask for the Giants to make the top four sitting six points behind Warrington and Castleford, yet with in-form players such as McIntosh, and Brough pulling the strings, Simon Woolford’s side could sneak in.
Man of the Match – Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants)
Whichever side won this game, the chances were a half-back named Danny would be vital. This time out it was the veteran half Brough that beat the young Richardson, as he continues to roll back the years since Woolford’s arrival acting as the conductor for an organised attack.
His kicking game caused all sorts of problems, even for the superstar Ben Barba, as the Saints fumbled the ball on several occasions. He led his side around the field, turned the Saints forwards around with ranging kicks and kept the defence guessing.
With wingers such as Darnell McIntosh and Jermaine McGillvary, Brough could become even more impressive in the coming weeks as neither flank looks weak in attack.
St. Helens 12
Tries: Barba, Thompson
Goals: Richardson (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
Huddersfield Giants 16
Tries: McIntosh (2), Mellor
Goals: Brough (2)
Drop Goals: n/a
St. Helens: Barba; Makinson, Costello, Percival, Swift; Lomax, Richardson; Amor, Roby, Thompson; Knowles, Taia, Wilkin.
Interchanges: Fages, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Lees.
Huddersfield: Rankin; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Turner, McIntosh; Gaskell, Brough; Matagi, O’Brien, Ta’ai; Mellor, Roberts, Ferguson.
Interchanges: Hinchcliffe, Clough, Roche, English.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas