Huddersfield Giants 32-22 Wigan Warriors: Highlights, player ratings and talking points

In an enthralling game at the John Smith’s Stadium, Huddersfield and Wigan served up an end-to-end classic complete with drama, controversy and some expansive rugby league.

The game wasn’t decided till the last minute when an error from a Giants drop out gave them a chance to see out the game with Louis Senior completing his hat-trick to round off the win.

If the two serve up something similar in the cup final, it will be a great occasion.

Highlights:

Slick and smooth Giants
The Giants were unlucky to not be further ahead at the break. Their attack was sublime in the way they moved the ball with great directness. However, they at times lacked the end product. However, that was not the case as they opened the scoring through Louis Senior who finished a slick move with Tui Lolohea coming round the back to set the winger up. Senior very nearly scored a similar try shortly after from a scrum but was unable to ground the ball before going into touch.

A great try that never was
That was just one of Huddersfield’s missed opportunities but the next absolutely deserved to be a try as Ricky Leutele burst through finding Lolohea in support who turned Bevan French inside out. He seemed headed for the corner but as he angled his run there he tried to feed the ball to Olly Russell who was coming back the other way for a drop off. Lolohea should have perhaps kept hold of the ball as the pass went to ground.

A great try that certainly was
Leutele was again key to another masterful attacking move as Jack Ashworth broke through from an Olly Russell short ball. Ashworth then offloaded to Leutele who certainly wasn’t going to allow this chance to pass his team by as he showed incredible strength to power over.

Wigan’s route back
The Warriors had been far too error strewn in the first half but showed on a couple of occasions that they could trouble the Giants as Sam Halsall broke in a move which would eventually lead to Joe Greenwood being sin binned. Then, just before the break, the Warriors got a try back through Halsall. This came after Iain Thornley broke through the middle finding Bevan French who was dragged down by Lolohea. The tackle wasn’t effected however and French found Halsall who scored to give the Warriors hope.

Huge ball from Lolohea
Lolohea continued his brilliant performance mere minutes into the second half of this game. After the ball bounced back to him following a blocked grubber he produced a huge pass which cut out almost half the field to put Senior in for a second.

Wardle’s delightful finish
A lot of Huddersfield’s attack in the first half came down their left but they were happy to switch to right in the second with a sleek move sending Jake Wardle down the wing with 25 minutes left. He turned the ball back inside for Sam Hewitt who was tackled. The Giants went instantly back to the right with Fages finding Wardle who managed to get the ball down for a try in next to no space with a delightful finish.

Debut delight for Nicholson
Wigan included two debutants in their side tonight and one of them scored mere minutes after coming on. After Sam Halsall’s second had given the Warriors hope of a comeback, those hopes were then solidified when young Matty Nicholson scored. The try came from a probing kick left which Huddersfield allowed to bounce. Abbas Miski caught it and went through setting up Nicholson for a try. Remarkably, he scored again after it looked like Sam Hewitt had wrapped up the win for Huddersfield. His second made it 26-22 giving the Warriors hope again of snatching the win.

Talking Points:

Error strewn Wigan
When it comes to reviewing tonight’s game and looking ahead to the Challenge Cup Final against the same opposition in two weeks’ time, Matt Peet will ask his side to make less errors. In the first half especially, the Warriors dropped too much ball with the best – or perhaps worst – example being French’s knock on after Halsall’s break. After the young winger had carved open Huddersfield, French’s chip earnt his side a penalty and saw Greenwood sin binned. This was a chance for Wigan to create some pressure and tire out the Giants but French knocked on early in the set owing to a miscommunication. Once the Warriors cut these mistakes out and started getting into the grind of the game, they began to dominate certain aspects of the contest culminating in their comeback.

Fages and Lolohea link up
When Theo Fages and Tui Lolohea signed for Huddersfield they were both given the number seven and six shirts respectively and many expected to see them combine in the halves for the Giants. That’s yet to happen this season but the two have shown what they can do linking up with Lolohea at fullback. With both coming round the back again and again to create space tonight, they were brilliant to watch and responsible for plenty of breaks from the Giants.

Wasteful Huddersfield
Despite this, the Giants squandered a lot of opportunities tonight with the Senior and Russell chances just being the tip of the iceberg. They should have been a lot further ahead given the enterprising rugby they played, but these missed chances left the door open for a Wigan comeback. If they cannot afford to do the same in the cup final against the Warriors.

Player Ratings:

Huddersfield Giants
6 Tui Lolohea – 9
22 Louis Senior – 7
3 Jake Wardle – 7
4 Ricky Leutele – 9
5 Ashton Golding – 7
23 Olly Russell – 8
7 Theo Fages – 9
15 Joe Greenwood – 7
19 Adam O’Brien – 7
20 Oliver Wilson – 7
29 Sam Hewitt – 7
27 Jack Ashworth – 7
14 Matty English – 7
Substitutes
9 Danny Levi – 6
10 Michael Lawrence – 6
17 Owen Trout – 6
26 Nathan Mason – 6

Wigan Warriors
1 Bevan French – 7
25 Sam Halsall – 8
4 Iain Thornley – 7
2 Jake Bibby – 6
24 Abbas Miski – 6
34 Logan Astley – 6
16 Harry Smith – 6
8 Brad Singleton – 6
28 Brad O’Neill – 7
15 Kaide Ellis – 6
26 James McDonnell – 6
17 Oliver Partington – 7
Substitutes
10 Patrick Mago – 6
19 Ethan Havard – 6
22 Joe Shorrocks – 6
30 Matty Nicholson – 8

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