Huddersfield Giants 12 Catalans Dragons 50: French leaders too hot for Huddersfield

Leaders Catalans Dragons comfortably secured a tenth win of the Super League season but at least depleted Huddersfield Giants were able to enjoy an exciting cameo by debutant Will Pryce.

Will Pryce celebrates with Jake Wardle after setting up the Huddersfield Giants centre's try (ED SYKES/SWPIX)

The teenage half-back entered the fray in the 62nd minute, just after James Maloney - the 35-year-old former State of Origin stand-off almost twice his age - waltzed in for the French club’s eighth try of the night.

It was hardly ideal circumstances but, beforehand, Huddersfield coach Ian Watson had urged the England Academy international to play his own game and he certainly did that regardless.

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With his first touch, Pryce managed an intercept, then confidently took on the Catalans defence with his second before his third brought an audacious no-look flick pass.

Catlans Dragons' Sam Tomkins touches down for another try. (ED SYKES/SWPIX)

With dad Leon, the former Great Britain stand-off so capable of flamboyance himself, watching in the stands, the 18-year-old’s fourth involvement saw him bamboozle Catalans’ defence with his footwork and find a lovely pass to slip Jake Wardle away for a consolation try.

It was a rare piece of magic on an otherwise depressing night for Huddersfield who, predictably given they were missing a dozen players to injury, suffered a fourth straight defeat.

Ill-disciplined Catalans ended the game with 11 men after Josh Drinkwater and Gil Dudson were both sin-binned for persistent infringing, team-mate Jason Baitieri having already been yellow-carded for the same offence in the 44th minute.

However, the game had long been over as a contest by that point, the hosts - who saw England winger Jermaine McGillvary put on report in the 48th minute - badly missing a creative hub without the injured half-backs Aidan Sezer, Lee Gaskell and Jack Cogger plus both hookers Adam O’Brien and James Cunningham.

Will Pryce is congratulated by dad Leon Pryce after his Huddersfield Giants debut (ED SYKES/SWPIX)

There was plenty of effort, not least from Owen Trout at loose forward and makeshift No9 Ash Golding, but Catalans were always destined to prevail.

Given the numbers of players missing from their side - and especially in key positions - it was sensible that Huddersfield initially offered a cautious approach to their play.

The tactic worked well; they played simply, kept their discipline, looked after the ball and completed their sets.

Admittedly, Olly Ashall-Bott and Kenny Edwards were both tackled on the last tackle but they were at the right end of the field when doing so and Catalans barely had a look-in.

Indeed, such was the visitors’ lack of opportunity, Steve McNamara instructed his side to take two points when James Gavet was late into the back of Maloney in the 17th minute.

It was no surprise; they had still yet to have any possession in Huddersfield’s 20.

Nevertheless, the French side are top of Super League for good reason; in the next set, Drinkwater dinked in a grubber for Ben Jullien to touch down and they were up and running.

Huddersfield’s Olly Russell was caught on the last tackle but, by this point, they needed him to kick.

Watson’s side did not make a handling error until Wardle spilled in the 27th minute but, again, that was ruthlessly exploited as Drinkwater kicked a 40/20 and Maloney’s short pass sent Mike McMeeken rumbling over in the resulting set.

Samisoni Langi was too powerful for Wardle as Catalans built up a 20-0 interval lead but Huddersfield gained some reward for their efforts at the start of the second period.

Baitieri was sin-binned as referee Ben Thaler finally lost patience with Catalans for infringing on their own line and, while down to 12 men, Wardle produced a searing break to race downfield before finding Golding with a wonderful pass inside for the former Leeds Rhinos full-back to score.

Russell converted but, by the time Baitieri returned to the field, his side had added another two tries via Benjamin Garcia and Arthur Mourgue for Maloney’s conversion to extend their lead to 32-6.

Sam Tomkins added another before Bradfordian Pryce’s late sparkle but recent England debutant Tom Davies still rounded things off for the emphatic visitors.

Huddersfield Giants: Ashall-Bott; McGillvary, Jake Wardle, Leutele, Cudjoe; Wood, Russell; Gavet, Golding, Yates, Jones, Edwards, Trout. Substitutes: Greenwood, Hewitt, Pryce, Ashworth.

Catalans Dragons: S Tomkins; Davies, Langi, Whare, Yaha; Maloney, Drinkwater; Dudson, Garcia, Bousquet, Jullien, McMeeken, Goodmand. Substitutes: Morgue, Whitley, Batieri, Kasiano.

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)