FRUSTRATED Jack Hughes believes Huddersfield Giants can overcome their disappointment endured at the hands of Leeds Rhinos and still reach Old Trafford.
The Fartowners looked to have secured second-place and a home semi-final when they led their West Yorkshire rivals 16-8 with just six minutes remaining at John Smith’s Stadium on Friday.
However, they somehow contrived to lose 20-16 after witnessing Kevin Sinfield level the game with a 78th minute penalty and then England winger Ryan Hall joyfully scamper away for the winning try in the final second.
All of which meant Huddersfield’s five-match winning run came to an abrupt halt, they finished third instead and must now visit second-placed Wigan Warriors in Thursday’s semi-final.
“It all went from being on a real high to being on a low in a matter of just a few seconds,” recalled Hughes, the second-row who has been on a season-long loan at Huddersfield from Wigan.
“It was gutting. But, at the end of the day, we still have a semi-final next week no matter where we were or who against.
“We know we’re going to Wigan now and we just have to concentrate on that.”
Defeat was tough on Huddersfield who had defended brilliantly for the majority of a dramatic encounter.
Hughes, 23, added: “That’s what I mean; we didn’t get the result but the performance was there.
“The performance going into a semi-final was good.
“We can be confident. If we didn’t play well I suppose we could dwell on it, look back and not be happy.
“But I think we can be happy with the display and that should give us more confidence.”
Huddersfield are still just 80 minutes away from a maiden Grand Final but Wigan - who would have finished top if not for Hall’s try - away will be a stern test.
After all the drama, Hughes - who joins Warrington Wolves in 2016 - admitted: “They say rugby league is the winner, don’t they?
“But it can kill you if you’re on the end of it.
I”t was gutting on Friday but, as I said, we had a semi-final next week either way.
“It would have been nice to have been at home but it’s at Wigan now and we’ll set our mind on that.
“For me, it’d make it even more special, beating Wigan and getting to a Grand Final that way, so yeah I’m looking forward to it.”