Widnes Vikings staged a dramatic late fightback to steal a surprise win against a stunned Huddersfield Giants.
Joe Mellor and Rhys Hanbury scored in the closing minutes at the Select Security Stadium as the Giants, last season’s League Leaders’ Shield winners, surrendered a strong position for the second game in succession.
Last week they still claimed a point against Hull KR, but there was no reprieve as the Vikings hit back from 10-0 and then 20-12 down.
Tries from Jermaine McGillvary and Leroy Cudjoe got the Giants off to a fine start and Eorl Crabtree put them back in control after Hanbury and debutant Paul Clough responded.
The opening try came after 10 minutes when Vikings full-back Hanbury spilled a Danny Brough kick and McGillvary pounced to touch down.
Widnes responded well but another mistake proved costly as Cudjoe intercepted a Danny Craven pass and sprinted 80 metres for a Brough-converted try under the posts.
It seemed the Giants were in firm control but, having surrendered a 24-6 advantage against Hull KR, Paul Anderson’s men inexplicably switched off again.
Hanbury made amends for his earlier error as he collected the ball and side-stepped his way through the defence to score from close range just after the half-hour. In the closing moments of the first period, the Vikings then declined a kickable penalty in search of another try.
The gamble paid off as Clough, who joined the club on loan from St Helens earlier in February, crashed over from a metre out after Stefan Marsh and Craven had both been stopped just short by the Giants defence.
With another new signing in Danny Tickle converting both Vikings scores, the visitors had an unexpected two-point lead at the break.
The Giants made a stronger start to the second half with powerful prop Crabtree coming to the fore, winning a penalty and then crashing over from close range to put his side back ahead.
Brough converted, but then missed the target from a 40-metre penalty moments later.
He put that right by landing two more penalties – the first after Willie Isa was placed on report for a high tackle on Kyle Wood – but Huddersfield could not convert that 20-12 lead into a winning score.
Widnes kept pushing with Phil Joseph knocking on when well placed and a Mellor kick almost creating an opening.
Their perseverance paid off as pressure forced a handling error from Chris Bailey and Mellor nipped in to score under the posts.
The momentum was with them and they remarkably snatched the lead after Jack Owens appeared to have been halted in a three-man tackle in the left corner.
The ball came out and Hanbury touched down in the melee, although there appeared to be some confusion over the scorer with Owens initially being the one credited.
A shaken Huddersfield rallied in the last minute to try to salvage the game, but Widnes held firm for two precious points.
Widnes Vikings: Hanbury, Flynn, Dean, Marsh, Owens, Craven, Mellor, Joseph, White, Gerrard, Galea, Tickle, Leuluai. Substitutes: Clough, Johnson, Isa, Lloyd.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Crabtree, Wood, Kopczak, Ferres, Chan, Lawrence. Substitutes: Bailey, Faiumu, Ta’ai, Kaufusi.
Referee: R Hicks (RFL).