Huddersfield Giants wasted the chance to go back to the top of Super League when a Mark Sneyd drop goal clinched a shock win for bottom club Salford City Reds.
The Giants, who were never in front, hit back to draw level at 20-20 before full-back Sneyd coolly landed a one pointer eight minutes from time.
It was Huddersfield’s second successive defeat after a 28-2 loss at Warrington and they can have no complaints with the result.
They were without Jason Chan, Michael Lawrence, Luke George, Larne Patrick, Ukuma Ta’ai and Jamie Cording, but gave a first appearance to teenage second rower Pete Aspinall.
Salford were missing Martin Gleeson, Danny Williams, Ryan McGoldrick, Lee Jewitt, Shannan McPherson and Vic Mauro.
They handed a debut to Lee Gaskell, signed from St Helens on a season’s loan exchange with Stuart Howarth yesterday, and the 22-year-old centre could not have made a better start as he fired the Reds ahead with a superb fourth minute try.
Gaskell sliced through the Giants defence to race 40 metres before touching down, with Sneyd booting the conversion.
A Sneyd break almost brought a second try for the Reds but Huddersfield could have drawn level had Shaun Lunt delivered a more accurate pass to Eorl Crabtree.
It proved costly with Salford adding a second touchdown from Jodie Broughton, who collected Liam Foran’s long pass to cross unopposed in the corner and make it 10-0.
But the lively Lunt supported a slick handling move involving Danny Brough, Brett Ferres and Joe Wardle to score under the posts midway through the first half.
Salford, who had won only one match this season, were playing with plenty of fluency and a smart off-load by former Giant Steve Wild enabled substitute Gareth Owen to put Ashley Gibson over.
The Reds were then given a let-off when David Faiumu was held up over the line by desperate defence.
But an Owen error gave Huddersfield the impetus for Crabtree to charge through and he was only denied by an ankle tap from Theo Fages.
The Reds’ joy was short-lived with Jermaine McGillvary going over from Leroy Cudjoe’s pass to cut the interval gap to 14-10.
Scott Grix put Huddersfield on the attack from the restart with a long-range burst.
But Salford opened up a 10-point lead when Jordan James charged onto Owen’s pass to scatter defenders to blast over with Sneyd tagging on the conversion.
Crabtree caused plenty of problems for Salford with his strong running and Huddersfield clawed back to 20-14 with Craig Kopczak going over – although there was a suspicion of a forward pass in the build-up.
Brough surprisingly hit the post with the straightforward conversion but then added the extras to his own try after a Reds defender palmed down Ferres’ pass.
However, Salford dealt impressively with Brough’s towering kicks and then secured victory with Sneyd’s one-pointer.
Afterweards., Huddersfield boss Paul Anderson had no complaints with the result wich followed on from last week’s defeat at Warrington.
“In life you get what you deserve and we came up against an enthusiastic and energetic team,” he said. “We looked like we had never been on a field together at times but credit to Salford.”
Salford City Reds: Sneyd, Murphy, Gibson, Gaskell, Broughton, Fages, Foran, Griffin, Godwin, Neal, Ashurst, Dixon, Wild. Substitutes: James, Boyle, Owen, Nero.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Aspinall, Ferguson. Substitutes: Fairbank, Faiumu, Mullally, Fielden.
Referee: R Hicks (RFL).