Huddersfield Giants 12 Wigan Warriors 14: Will Pryce maiden try a highlight as Giants edged out again

IT WAS another case of getting close but simply not close enough for frustrated Huddersfield Giants tonight.

Huddersfield Giants' Will Pryce celebrates his try. (BRUCE ROLLINSON)

Ian Watson’s squad clearly do not lack effort or endeavour as this spirited display once more showed.

However, what they would do to be able to conjure up just a little more creativity and finesse where it mattered most.

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For the second time in six days they lost to Wigan Warriors.

On Sunday, they missed out by four points. Last night it was just two but the pain did not get any easier and they have now lost six successive games.

As is the norm’ in Super League at the moment, both sides were beset by injuries and Covid-related issues but Wigan just managed to scrape their way to victory and continue a mini-revival for coach Adrian Lam.

Twice in the second period, Huddersfield fought back to within touching distance but each time their gnarled opponents saw off the looming threat.

Will Pryce, the 18-year-old stand-off making his first start for Giants, impressed and it was his maiden try in senior rugby league that offered his side hope on the hour mark.

Huddersfield Giants' Will Pryce stretches overs to score but it would not be enough. (BRUCE ROLLINSON)

Accepting the ball ten metres out, he straightened up and used his pace to accelerate to the line, surprising the Wigan defence, evading outstretched arms and showing strength to stretch over.

Olly Russell converted to leave Giants just 8-6 behind but their opponents quickly sucked out their growing confidence.

When Nathan Peats made a dangerous tackle, Wigan were gifted territory.

Oliver Gildart angled brilliantly infield to splinter the defence and find his England colleague Liam Farrell who scored his 100th Super League try in the 69th minute, Harry Smith improving.

Huddersfield Giants' Josh Jones looks to break through. (BRUCE ROLLINSON)

That said, Watson’s side were not deterred.

Nathaniel Peteru, who made his debut on Sunday after joining on loan from Leigh Centurions, returned from the bench to power over and score his own first try for the club with seven minutes remaining.

With Russell converting, Wigan looked edgy especially when the scrum-half opted to run on the last tackle and found further chinks in their defence,

Nevertheless, Lam’s side - as they so often do - rallied to quickly close the gaps down and James Gavet, the prop who worked hard up front for Giants, found himself aimlessly kicking ahead. Chance gone.

Missing three playmakers in the shape of Aidan Sezer, Lee Gaskell and Jack Cogger, it is clear where Huddersfield’s problems lie but none of them are back anytime soon.

Encouragingly, though, Pryce and Russell are improving with every game together.

“It was similar to Sunday; there was heaps of effort but we just took a little time to get in stride,” said Watson, whose side trailed 6-0 at half-time following Mitch Clark’s 31st minute try.

“In the first half, we didn’t move the ball as early as we wanted to. But in the second half we saw some really good stuff from our spine of Olly Russell and Will Pryce.

“It just came down to small margins and Farrell caught us. It was just one slip up really. We defended well enough to put ourselves into position to win the game.

“Our attack was not as fluent as we’d like but you have got to remember Olly is 22 and Will is just 18; this side is only really two weeks old.

“But the effort gone in is clear to see. They’re working really hard for each other. I wouldn’t say Wigan opened us up, it’s more our mistake that cost us the game. But we will get better.”

Some unwanted history was made last night; for the first time in Super League, games were played on the eve of the Challenge Cup final.

For now, it is purely due to needs must; a backlog of fixtures piling up as Covid continues to cause carnage to the competition.

However, hopefully it will not occur again and the first hour of this contest would be a perfect reason as to why.

It was a dour affair, two sides low on confidence and energy, offering plenty of willing but each looking jaded and out of sorts.

The heat will have played its part but it must be hoped the Challenge Cup can reclaim sole dominance on this weekend in 2022 and earn the spotlight it deserves.

Huddersfield’s Sam Wood sailed the kick-off dead and matters did not get much better for his side even if they did generally defend well.

Clark scored after Jake Wardle spilled a high kick but Farrell and Russell both ran behind their own men in quick succession to concede penalties and show the lack of quality on show.

Smith added a penalty at the start of the second period and Huddersfield - who gave a debut to youngster Robson Stevens - now have to dust themselves down again for Thursday’s visit from Hull FC.

Huddersfield Giants: Golding; Cudjoe, Jake Wardle, Wood, L Senior; Pryce, Russell, Gavet, P Peats, Wilson, McQueen, Jones, Yates. Substitutes: Hewitt, McGillvary, Stevens, Peteru.

Wigan Warriors: Hanley; Halsall, Bibby, Gildart, Marshall; Leuluai, Smith; Singleton, O’Neill, Clubb, Pearce-Paul, Farrell, Partington. Substitutes: Bourouh, Clark, Havard, Shorrocks.