Huddersfield Giants 10 St Helens 18: Winless start goes on for Giants

FOUR Super League games in and the Huddersfield Giants renaissance has not yet fired up.

Huddersfield Giants' Michael Lawrence (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

The West Yorkshire club are still awaiting a first league win under Ian Watson’s command following another display that showed plenty of promise but, ultimately, fell short once more.

In fairness, against unbeaten champions and leaders St Helens, they were always going to find life tough but more so having lost both centres from last week’s agonising 25-24 loss at Hull KR.

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In the absence of Leroy Cudjoe and Jake Wardle, former Queensland State of Origin back-row Chris McQueen had to roll back the years to slot in there, with winger Sam Wood - at the other end of his career - moving infield.

Huddersfield Giants' Adam O'Broen tries to get the ball away against St Helens. (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

Both adjusted well and forwards James Gavet and Oliver Wilson were the ones brought into the 17 ready to try and help quieten Saints renowned pack.

And, indeed, for periods, Giants held their own. However, given the quality on show in Saints’ squad, it is always imperative to maximise any opportunities that come your way.

With that in mind, Watson will be maddened by some of his side’s exploits in the first period.

They hardly had any decent territory yet, on the rare occasions they did escape their own half, were woefully profligate.

Huddersfield Giants' Chris McQueen, left, celebrates his try with Jermaine McGillvary. (JONATHAN GAWTHORPE)

Aidan Sezer their marquee Australian scrum-half, threw a forward pass on the second tackle under no pressure whatsoever after his side had kicked a penalty into touch to gain some much-needed field position.

And that was about as near as Huddersfield got to threatening in the first period.

But how they defended. Watching Saints continually pore forward, they must have felt like those six club owners from the ‘other’ Super League did earlier this week: under the cosh.

The difference was, compared to those football counterparts, this Giants side actually had some backbone.

With prop Matty English particularly impressive in the middle, and Kenny Edwards cajoling all around him as bodies tired, they remained ordered and disciplined.

Edwards forced one error out of Mark Percival and English - showing why he was called up to England training last week - did similar with a hit on Theo Fages.

When Saints did finally look to have broken them, Percival’s flat pass to Fages seeing the Frenchman offload spectacularly, English was there again to hold up Kyle Amor between the posts.

There was little relief, though; Darnell McIntosh scrambled one kick back from behind his own goalline, only to be bundled into touch, and when Saints forced back-to-back drop-outs plus a set restart, the hosts eventually succumbed.

Fages, who had scored their first try early on, produced the arrowed, flat pass to send Percival over in the 38th minute on his 150th Super League appearance.

Lachlan Coote added his second conversion for a 12-0 interval lead but, importantly, Watson’s side finally found some fluency at the start of the second period.

It is a common theme: they always improve after the break.

Jack Cogger’s 40/20 got them in position and, though the Australian stand-off was twice badly off-cue as passes hit the ground going to the right, his side did come away with points.

Sezer found his range on the last play with a well-executed ploy, Giants shaping to kick before he delivered a long cut-out pass that saw McQueen surging through untouched from 20m.

When Coote sailed the restart directly into touch, there was a sense that Saints could be rattled.

But Sezer could not find his previous accuracy and a poor kick wasted the chance of scoring in back-to-back sets or at least applying more pressure.

Instead, as is the norm’ for them, Kristian Woolf’s side soon regathered themselves with Lewis Dodd smartly laying on a try for Jonny Lomax in the 63rd minute.

That could have easily led to the floodgates being opened but, under Watson’s watch, Giants always show character.

They held firm and produced another moment of crispness as Cogger found space to usher Jermaine McGillvary over, Sezer improving with nine minutes remaining. Again, though, it was not enough.

Huddersfield Giants: Gaskell; McGillvary, McQueen, Wood, McIntosh; Cogger, Sezer; Yates, Cunningham, Gavet, Jones, Edwards, Ashworth. Substitutes: O’Brien, Wilson, English, Lawrence.

St Helens: Coote; Naiqama, Welsby, Percival, Grace; Lomax, Fages; Walmsley, Roby, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Thompson, Bentley, Mata’utia. Substitutes: Amor, Paasi, Dodd, Wingfield.

Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham)