Wolves slay Giants to go within one point of second
Huddersfield Giants 12 Warrington Wolves 34
By Rachel Arnett (photo courtesy of P&B Pictures, Neil Ashurst)
Warrington Wolves went into this round 14 encounter three points behind the Huddersfield Giants hoping for a win to edge to within one point keeping their toe in the door at the top end of the table.
The Wolves won their home fixture earlier this season in difficult weather conditions at The Halliwell Jones Stadium but with dry conditions at the John Smith's Stadium a different type of game was in store this time around.
The visitors' line-up saw two changes from the side that defeated Bradford last week; Joel and Michael Monaghan were both missing with slight injuries meaning Rhys Williams and Garreth Carvell were brought into the 17.
New in for the Giants following last week's win at Catalan were: Dawson, Chan, Mullally and Leeming with Wardle, Dwyer, Faiumu and Ferres out.
The family fun carnival atmosphere lifted the crowds from both teams with this top of the table clash having all the ingredients of another classic cross-Pennine clash.
The first half started under the control of Huddersfield but after their opening score the momentum switched in favour of the Wolves and it was the visitors who dominated the scoreboard throughout the first 40 minutes. The half ended with the Giants reduced to 12 men setting the stage for an interesting opening to the second half. The second 40 didn't seem to get going as both sides were unable to capitalise on opportunities. It was the Wolves who were able to maintain that edge to secure the win at full time now just one point behind the Giants.
Huddersfield got the game underway with the Wolves first in attack, donning their alternative strip of red, white and green. The Wolves completed their first set cleanly and the chasing defence kept the Giants back on their first attack.
A 40/20 three minutes in gave the Giants strong field position, building pressure from a scrum 10m out on the left. This opened up space down the right for McGillvary to take an inside ball to score in the corner. Brough added the conversion. 6-0.
A Huddersfield error through a knock-on at the other end of the pitch then provided the Wolves with a strong set from 20 metres out. And soon Higham had burrowed over for the visitors' response on seven minutes. Hodgson's boot levelled the scores at 6-6.
The opening quarter saw some free-flowing rugby from both sides and it was the Wolves over for their second on 18 minutes when the Giants lost possession in the tackle; Waterhouse scooped up the ball to run over for a try from 10 metres out. Hodgson's conversion attempt was just wide. 6-10.
The Giants came close to an immediate response following a scrum 10-metres out but the Wolves' defence held strong to tackle them out of the set. And once again it was the Wolves in a strong position at the opposite end of the field following repeat penalties. Taking an inside ball from Hodgson, Waterhouse was over for his second on 23 minutes. Hodgson's conversion extended the lead to 16 points to six.
Just before the half-hour mark Ratchford touched down for a skilful individual try following up two of his own chip-kicks just metres away from the line. The ball skipped up through the defensive line for Ratchford to collect and score. Hodgson landed the conversion 6-22.
A heated moment just four minutes from half time indicated the intensity of the game. The Wolves carried Cudjoe into touch to deny a home try just a few metres out as Huddersfield strived to narrow the gap before the break.
The Giants suffered another blow right on half time when Brough was given a yellow card following intervention from the touch judge and headed to the sin-bin as Hodgson attempted a penalty goal from the touchline. This was missed but the Wolves would take on 12 men for the opening 10 minutes of the second half 22-6 up.
Half Time: 6-22
The early stages of the second half saw end-to-end play with both sides putting in numerous hard-hitting tackles and strong defensive sets. The first 10 minutes of the half saw no tries scored but on 51 minutes the Wolves broke the line following a penalty 30 metres out; quick hands to the right saw Hodgson force his way out of a tackle to touch down in the corner. He added the touchline conversion to stretch the lead to 6-28.
The Giants responded almost immediately when a lost ball by the Wolves in a prime spot for the home side saw Leeming cross for a walk-in try. Brough, back from the sin bin, added the extras. 12-28.
The half continued to be slightly disjointed as the final quarter got underway with both sides conceding penalties as they looked to push their expansive play.
The deadlock was broken once again by the Wolves who gathered pace down the left to put Atkins over in the corner for the visitors' sixth on 68 minutes. Hodgson's boot added the extra two to take the lead to 12-34 with just over 10 minutes of the game remaining.
Both teams continued to create opportunities but scuppered them at crucial points in play.
The game ended with the Wolves defending following a goal-line drop-out but the line held tight to deny a final flurry from the home side.
Final score: 12-34
Scott Grix, Jermaine McGillvary, Leroy Cudjoe, Aaron Murphy, Matty Dawson, Danny Brough, Luke Robinson, Larne Patrick, Shaun Lunt, Craig Kopczak, Jason Chan, Dale Ferguson, Michael Lawrence
Subs: Eorl Crabtree, Ukuma Ta'ai, Anthony Mullally, Kruise Leeming
Tries: McGillvary, Leeming
Goals: Brough (2)
Brett Hodgson, Chris Riley, Simon Grix, Ryan Atkins, Rhys Williams, Stefan Ratchford, Richie Myler, Chris Hill, Micky Higham, Paul Wood, Trent Waterhouse, Ben Westwood, Mike Cooper
Subs: Garreth Carvell, Ben Currie, Danny Bridge, Glenn Riley
Tries: Higham, Waterhouse (2), Ratchford, Hodgson, Atkins
Goals: Hodgson (5)
Game photos below (courtesy of Bob Brough)
05, May, 2013