JERMAINE McGILLVARY reached two milestones as Huddersfield Giants eased past a disappointing Catalan Dragons to strengthen their hold on sixth spot.
Just a week after scoring a hat-trick against Bradford Bulls, the England Knights winger secured his 100th career try in his 100th Super League appearance for his hometown club yesterday.
By the time McGillvary had notched his 101st in the 52nd minute, his side had eased into a 26-6 lead against turgid opponents, who continue to frustrate.
In the table, Catalan could have closed the gap to just a solitary point between them and their West Yorkshire hosts.
Considering the manner in which they completely destroyed Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in Perpignan the previous week, you expected them to really test Paul Anderson’s side who, despite this convincing scoreline, are still struggling to find their own best form.
However, Catalan gave one of their now well-known, almost traditional, away day showings –that being utterly clueless.
Unable to retain possession, dropping off tackles, failing to get anywhere near a kick early on ... it makes far too familiar viewing for their small, but dedicated travelling support.
They trailed just 14-6 at the break but fell to pieces in the second period, undone by another masterclass from stand-off Danny Brough, whose Scotland colleague Joe Wardle also added a brace, taking his tally for the season to 16 tries, just one behind McGillvary.
Last season’s league leaders Huddersfield moved up to joint-fifth with Warrington Wolves who suffered a surprise loss at home to Wakefield yesterday but Catalan’s ineptitude was evident early on.
That was best illustrated when, after the hosts had scored their second try via the returning Aaron Murphy, Morgan Escare sailed the re-start straight into touch.
As if to prove it was no fluke, after McGillvary had scored from that error, the French full-back then booted his next re-start dead too.
Fortunately, for the errant visitors, Huddersfield did not capitalise on that opportunity so, after 19 minutes, they trailed just 14-0.
That meant, when the hosts were briefly dragged down to Catalan’s level and Eloi Pellisier capitalised on some rare slack goalline defence to score nine minutes later, Sam Williams’s conversion meant they somehow trailed by just eight points despite all their problems.
Huddersfield had lost plenty of impetus after hooker Kyle Wood – their most vibrant player until his enforced departure – suffered a knee injury when attempting a sidestep following a midfield break.
Luke Robinson and Brough were both guilty of making ill-conceived passes and England second-row Brett Ferres twice coughed up possession, too, to further encourage Catalan.
When both sides made handling errors in each of their opening couple of sets, you feared it might not be any sort of classic.
But Huddersfield quickly steadied and took a fifth-minute lead when Wood showed great awareness to dart over down the blindside after a penalty had put his side in good attacking position. Brough could not convert, but the Man of Steel did so when Leon Pryce made a mess of his towering kick to gift Murphy his score.
The winger was not even in the initial 19-man squad but got an unexpected start on his return from a broken hand when England centre Leroy Cudjoe was ruled out with a hip problem.
After Escare’s first kicking aberration, Ferres spilled over the line charging on to Wood’s clever pass.
However, Catalan soon returned possession and Scott Grix’s smart, long pass ushered McGillvary over in the right corner for his first.
Pelissier offered his side that brief respite but, when Elliott Whitehead dropped another Catalan pass, Wardle picked up and raced in untouched from 60 metres to extend Huddersfield’s lead five minutes into the second period, Brough adding his second conversion.
Next, Ukuma Ta’ai had the ball illegally ripped as he tried powering over, then Kruise Leeming was held up, but McGillvary finally exposed Catalan once more as he picked up Grix’s hurried pass and easily beat Pryce to the corner for Brough to kick again.
Catalan responded approaching the hour mark when Williams made a rare break and, after Jodie Broughton dealt with the initial threat, the ball was moved quickly wide for Michael Oldfield to score.
But Wardle added his secondsoon after courtesy of Brough’s creative use of the outside of his left boot to chip for the on-rushing centre who juggled before touching down.
Broughton then did brilliantly to palm back into play Brough’s cross-field kick for Ferres to get in on the act and, though Escare scored for the sixth successive game late on, there was only ever one side truly in this.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix; McGillvary, Murphy, Wardle, Broughton; Brough, Robinson; Crabtree, Wood, Kaufusi, Ferres, Ta’ai, Bailey. Substitutes: Kopczak, Lawrence, Patrick, Leeming.
Catalan Dragons: Escare; Oldfield, Pomeroy, Taia, Millard; Pryce, Williams; Simon, Henderson, Bousquet, Anderson, Whitehead, Baitieri. Substitutes: Lima, Maria, Pelissier, Paea.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).