HUDDERSFIELD Giants kicked off the new season today at Millennium Magic with a thoroughly commanding victory over much-fancied Warrington Wolves.
Nathan Brown’s side, inspired by two-try Danny Brough, earned their win on the back of some quality defence and a ruthlessness in attack their usually slick opponents regularly failed to muster.
Keal Carlile, Brough, Darrell Griffin and Shaun Lunt all scored tries while Warrington were left with an opening day casualty list after Matt King, Simon Grix and Lee Briers all departed with injuries.
Huddersfield - who handed a debut to Australian Test star Luke O’Donnell - went behind after only four minutes when Joel Monaghan swiftly got his Super League career underway with a sharply-created and finished try.
Brett Hodgson, the ex-Giants captain who left the Galpharm over the winter, converted from the touchline but it was the only real crisp move of the half for Tony Smith’s men who desperately struggled for precision and turned over ample possession.
The Giants soon responded as well, Carlile - the 20-year-old hooker making his first Super League start - following up his own kick and capitalising when King fumbled.
Brough missed the conversion attempt but put his side in front on the half-hour mark with a breathtaking try.
Joel Monaghan palmed down Lee Briers’ crossfield kick but only found Brough who gathered and raced 80 metres, going down after Chris Bridge’s tap tackle but stretching over the line for a quality effort.
He missed the kick again but added a penalty five minutes later, moments before King was stretchered off with a serious knee injury.
Darrell Griffin, who made his England debut in the Four Nations, showed great strength to get over in the 46th minute as the Warrington defence wilted, Brough making it 16-6.
The Challenge Cup holders applied plenty of pressure in response but had no answer to the Giants’ steeliness and desire in defence.
Joel Monaghan did pick up one loose Brough pass to storm in from 60 metres but saw his effort disallowed by video referee Thierry Alibert due to the merest of touches from Bridge’s outstretched hand as he tried to intercept.
Shaun Lunt, another of Giants’ England contingent, confirmed victory by skidding out of dummy half and stretching over in the 65th minute, Brough adding his second conversion.
Ben Westwood finally breached the Huddersfield defence after a long delay for Briers’ head injury, Hodgson converting, but scrum-half Brough hit back with another scintillating score, a weaving run which tore through the centre of Warrington’s beleaguered defence.
He added the extras from in front of the posts to finish with 16 points while Griffin and Michael Monaghan spent the last four minutes of the game in the sin-bin following an altercation after O’Donnell’s robust tackle on David Solomona.
Ryan Atkins got a Warrington consolation at the death, Hodgson improving, but it was their impressive opponents who laid down a real marker for 2011.
GIANTS: Grix; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Lawrence, Hodgson; Brown, Brough; Crabtree, Carlile, Mason, Gilmour, Fa’alogo, O’Donnell. Replacements: Lunt, Horne, Faiumu, Griffin.
WOLVES: Hodgson; J Monaghan, Bridge, Atkins, King; Briers, Myler; Morley, M Monaghan, Harrison, Anderson, Westwood, Grix. Replacements: Solomona, Wood, Higham, Cooper.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)