Wakefield Trinity Wildcats moved within 80 minutes of a possible trip to Wembley as they disposed of Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium in the Ladbroke’s Challenge Cup quarter final.
With both sides scoring four tries each the difference was kicking as Liam Finn kicked six goals, whilst Jamie Ellis and Danny Brough surprisingly missed two conversions apiece.
The evening got off to an emotional start with a touching tribute to Ronan Costello, the 17 year old Giants academy player who tragically passed away recently after a tragic accident on the pitch.
The first chance was afforded to the Wildcats as Huddersfield knocked on straight from the kick-off giving them possession and territory and recent acquisition David Fifita barreled his way through week defending to score in the second minute, Liam Finn made it a six point lead with the boot.
The Giants got their first chance of concerted pressure when Bill Tupou knocked on a Huddersfield pass in his own half, a penalty then gave them a chance to set up camp in the Wildcats 20 metre area but a second knock on by Ukuma Ta’ai wasted the chance.
Another knock-on, this time by Eorl Crabtree presented the Wildcats another chance, Jacob Miller kicked forward on the free play but Tom Johnstone dropped the ball with the line beckoning.
A cheap penalty for the Wildcats was gratefully accepted by Finn to stretch the lead to eight points after 12 minutes.
A flying break by Reece Lyne caused panic stations in the home sides defence, a subsequent vicious high shot from captain Danny Brough saw him dispatched to the sin bin by referee Gareth Hewer.
From the resulting penalty Ben Jones-Bishop provided an acrobatic finish in the corner in the 15th minute, Finn was off target with the touchline conversion attempt leaving the Wildcats with a 12 point lead.
Another penalty given in front of the Giants posts was gobbled up by Finn to make it 14 points after 18 minutes.
Within a minute an interception saw Scott Grix race over from 60 metre’s and hold off a brave effort from Johnstone to somehow ground the ball to give the Giants their first points in the 19th minute, Jamie Ellis was off target with the touchline conversion attempt.
The next attack from the Giants saw Wakefield fullback Max Jowitt kick the ball dead to concede a goal line drop out, but the chance it provided was wasted when Ellis lofted a last tackle kick out into touch on their right edge.
Brough’s first contribution on his return to action was to make a break and produce a pass for Hull FC bound utility back Jake Connor to finish in athletic fashion in the corner in the 25th minute, Brough was wide with the conversion attempt.
Suddenly the momentum was all with Huddersfield and back-to-back penalties presented them with more territory and a chance to increase the pressure as Jowitt had to concede another goal line drop out.
For all their possession and territory though, committed defending from the Wildcats was frustrating the home side as another raid was repelled when Finn claimed a kick infront of his line, then two minutes later Jason Walton also cleared his lines from a kick.
On their first visit to the Giants danger zone for a while Walton was then unfortunate to be adjudged to have knocked on when Aaron Murphy appeared to have pulled the ball out of his possession as he stood up to play the ball ten metre’s out.
Having lost their momentum the Giants then conceded another penalty shortly before half time, however the chance came to nothing as Finn wasted possession with a nothing pass that fell to the grateful Giants defence.
A penalty to the Giants then moved them to the other end of the field and, for the third time in the half, Jowitt had to concede the goal line drop out with a minute left to the break.
A cut-out pass from Brough gave Connor another chance of an athletic finish, but the 21 year old was denied by video referee Ben Thaler leaving the Wildcats leading by six points going into the sheds.
The Wildcats drew first blood in the second half when Grix tried an over-the-top pass which Johnstone leapt to catch and race 90 metre’s to score under the posts in the 44th minute, the inevitable conversion from Finn increased their advantage to 12 points.
Huddersfield got given a chance with yet another penalty, such was the indiscipline between both sides, but Brough committed the cardinal sin of not finding touch, from the resulting attack Fifita, who never scored a try in the NRL, was denied this time after reference to the video but the visitors were given head and feed at the scrum.
However the big forward, who was sin-binned on his debut a week before, wouldn’t be denied his second try as Finn fed him a short pass and he held off Grix to crash over in the 55th minute, Finn added the extras for an 18 point lead.
From the kick-off the Giants regained possession and England winger Jermaine McGillvary crossed the whitewash in the corner after 56 minutes, Brough was wayward again with the touchline conversion to leave them trailing 12-26.
The next chance came by way of a goal line drop out by Huddersfield, Brough tried a short drop out which failed to travel ten metre’s giving the Wildcats another penalty, which Finn duly converted for another two points in the 67th minute.
A break in play from Jacob Miller caused more trouble for the Giants as Murphy then knocked on a Wakefield pass, however that chance came to nothing as Ben Jones-Bishop was tackled into touch eventually by the Giants outside back.
Video official Thaler was called upon again when McGillvary was hit full blooded by Jowitt and dropped the ball backwards, Tom Symonds was waiting to pounce but was denied because he didn’t ground the ball thanks to desperate defence.
From a penalty for a shoulder charge Jones-Bishop almost pulled off an interception but knocked on, from the scrum McGillvary got his second try in the 79th minute, inevitably Ellis was off target with the conversion attempt.
The Wildcats fans counted down the remaining time as their team coasted through to the semi-finals.
Penalties: Huddersfield 9 Wakefield 7
Goal Line Drop Outs: Huddersfield 1 Wakefield 3
Man of the Match: David Fifita