Huddersfield Giants, courtesy of Sam Rapira’s converted try in the 71st minute, edged a much-needed win against Catalans Dragons yesterday to bolster their hopes of eventually clawing into the top eight.
Granted, there was little Magic about the 80 minutes, a largely mundane match littered with countless errors as the often-frustrating Catalans Dragons slumped to a fifth straight loss leaving them just one point and one place above their opponents in tenth.
However, few could argue Huddersfield did not deserve to come away with the victory in Newcastle and only their fourth win of their campaign.
They finished strongly and coach Rick Stone admitted: “In the context of our season that was pretty important. We weren’t great – both teams were a bit scrappy in the first half.
“They managed the second half better than us for 25 minutes or so, but our goal line D was the biggest difference for us today.
“We showed a lot more resolve and made better decisions.
“The possession flow then started to even out, they got tired and we engineered some points when we needed to, under pressure.
“The game opened up a bit right at the death, and we hung in there and were close enough to give ourselves a chance.
“I’m pretty happy of the boys, the owner and everyone in the club.”
Catalans will rue Greg Bird’s 65th minute try being ruled out by the video referee Ben Thaler who spotted a negligible shove by Richie Myler on Huddersfield’s Lee Gaskell as players prepared to compete for Luke Walsh’s high kick. With the likely conversion, that would have put the French side 16-6 ahead and, in a game of so few chances, it is unlikely Giants would have recovered.
However, Catalans coach Laurent Frayssinous criticised his own side’s game-management, realising they only had themselves to blame.
A foolish offload from Krisnan Inu 30m from his own line saw Fouad Yaha destined to end up in touch and, from that possession, former Kiwi prop Rapira expose some feeble goalline defence to barrel over.
Martin Ridyard, the on-loan Leigh Centurions half-back making his debut, slotted the conversion and, when Catalans’ short restart backfired, man-of-the-match Aaron Murphy surged clear to set up position for Huddersfield’s third try of the game.
Again the French side lacked urgency in defence as Adam O’Brien, the Huddersfield hooker signed from Bradford Bulls last autumn, dived over from close range to secure his first try for the club.
Ridyard made it 18-10 and even though Tony Gigot’s late 40/20 forced some pressure, Giants kept their line intact once more.
Richie Myler had scampered over inside just four minutes for Catalans following a lovely flowing move, Luke Walsh converting.
But Giants soon responded as the fit-again Lee Gaskell sliced over although they did not level until Ridyard’s penalty in the final seconds of the first period.
Former Hull KR centre Iain Thornley gave Catalans the lead after getting on the outside of returning Huddersfield captain Leroy Cudjoe in the 48th minute but that narrow advantage would never prove enough.
With Danny Brough completing his two-game ban at Wakefield Trinity on Friday, the 30-year-old Ridyard will get another chance to show what he can do.
“Considering he’d only had three training sessions I thought that was a pretty decent performance from him,” added Stone.
“Sometimes you can have a full off season and not gel in the first week.
“He went okay for us – he’s got a bit to prove to himself and maybe others as well.
“He wasn’t perfect by any stretch and we were a bit clunky in attack generally, but considering the circumstances I thought he was good.”
Catalans Dragons: Gigot; Yaha, Inu, Thornely, Duport; Walsh, Myler; Moa, Aiton, Casty, Bousquet, Garcia, Bird. Substitutes: Simon, da Costa, Perez, Dezaria.
Huddersfield Giants: Mamo; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Murphy, McIntosh; Gaskell, Ridyard; Ikahihifo, Leeming, Wakeman, Ferguson, Mellor, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Rapira, Clough, O’Brien, Roberts.
Referee: Chris Campbell (Widnes).