Huddersfield Giants 18 Warrington Wolves 19: Gutsy Giants so close in dramatic finale

COURAGEOUS Huddersfield Giants suffered another painful one-point defeat after a thrilling game against Warrington Wolves.

Huddersfield Giants' Adam O'Brien feels the pain from a high tackle. (PIC: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia)

Having lost their first fixture back from lockdown in Golden Point extra-time at Leeds Rhinos, this one only went for 80 minutes but the heartache was just as stinging.

Simon Woolford’s side fell to Blake Austin’s drop-goal in the 76th minute and saw two opportunities to draw level go begging.

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They had done wonderfully well to even be in the contest given they saw prop Matty English stretchered off in the fourth minute and second-row Ukuma Ta’ai limp off before the break.

But Leroy Cudjoe - playing his first game in 14 months - danced through to set up Olly Russell in the 73rd minute for Russell to score.

Youngster Russell - having come on for injured captain and usual kicker Aidan Sezer - held his nerve to convert his own try and level the game and set up a frantic finish.

But after Austin’s one-pointer, Russell spilled in good position and then could not get close with an effort from near halfway.

Young forward Sam Hewitt was outstanding for the West Yorkshire club as was tireless hooker Adam O’Brien and Kenny Edwards but their effort was in vain in a game full of controversy.

Ukuma Ta'ai dives over for Huddersfield Giants' first try (PIC: Bruce Rollinson/JPIMedia)

Huddersfield lost England Knights prop English after a shoulder charge by Ben Murdoch-Masila.

He needed on-field treatment for more than 10 minutes before being stretchered off and it was only then that Ben Thaler brandished a yellow card to the Warrington player.

However, replays suggested the Tonga international was lucky not to see red for making direct contact to English’s head with his shoulder.

Thereafter, it was a competitive throughout with Warrington being reduced to 12 men for a second time following a blatant trip by Austin on O’Brien.

The Great Britain international had already earlier infuriated Giants, staying down for treatment on his own goalline just as O’Brien dived over for a ‘try’ that was then ruled out.

Warrington had actually gone ahead with a Stefan Ratchford penalty while Murdoch-Masila was off but their opponents replied when Ta’ai plundered over from close range for Sezer to improve.

However, Giants failed to capitalise when having four back-to-back sets on the Wolves line, Jake Wardle and Tom Holmes both forcing drop-outs before a poor Sezer kick let Steve Price’s side off the hook.

Instead, it was Warrington - despite being down to 12 with Austin off - who did successfully show them how it’s done, Ben Currie latching onto Gareth Widdop’s grubber in the 26th minute after some sustained pressure

Ratchford improved for an 8-6 lead before Huddersfield saw their best chance of the half go begging, too.

Cudjoe has only played one game in almost two years following a succession of knee issues and that perhaps showed when he broke through in the 31st minute.

It was wonderful to see the former England centre glide through as he did but - a few more games into his comeback he would know doubt have gone in himself.

Here, he attempted a pass to his trusty wingman Jermaine McGillvary but, crucially, it only found touch.

Huddersfield had plenty of possession down at the Warrington end but, too often, their last play options were not up to scratch and also too many times the wrong player ended up with the ball at that point.

Jake Wardle almost danced his way over just before the break only, ironically, to be denied by Murdoch-Masila.

Warrington were deemed offside, though, so Sezer levelled the game up at the break.

Nevertheless, Price’s side reclaimed the lead just two minutes into the second period through Widdop although Huddersfield-born Toby King’s pass that sent the England half-back free was clearly forward.

Ratchford improved but Huddersfield rallied again.

Although Holmes had a try disallowed in the 53rd minute, his side scored in the next set as McGillvary latched onto Sezer’s wonderful long pass.

Sezer could not level from wide out and Price’s side responded in the 58th minute.

It came from a great counter as Austin mopped up Sezer’s chip over and Widdop and King combined for Tom Lineham to get away.

Giants still had their chances but, once more, fell just short.

Huddersfield Giants: Golding; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Jake Wardle, McIntosh; Holmes, Sezer; English, O’Brien, Matagi, Edwards, Ta’ai, Lawrence. Substitutes: Russell, Hewitt, Wood, Walne.

Warrington Wolves: Ratchford; Lineham, Mamo, King, Charnley; Austin, Widdop; Hill, D Clark, Cooper, Currie, Murdoch-Masila, Hughes. Substitutes: J Clark, Philbin, Akauola, Walker.

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield)