Huddersfield Giants 6 St Helens 54: Depleted Giants blown away by champions

Huddersfield Giants have signed former Queensland State of Origin forward Chris McQueen to bolster their depleted ranks but even Steve McQueen might have struggled to see them escape this mauling.

Huddersfield Giants prop Matty English takes on St Helens (PIC: BRUCE ROLLINSON)

Shortly before kick-off against St Helens it was announced second-row McQueen, who made one controversial appearance for England in 2017 and was released by Wests Tigers this week, had joined on a trial contract until the end of the season.

With a dozen players missing due to injury or suspension tonight, the 33-year-old’s experience will certainly come in handy in the weeks ahead.

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However, for now, his new employers were the latest side simply unable to stem the relentless red and white tide of the champions who moved top of Super League for the first time this season with a fifth successive win.

Admittedly, Saints were not without their own problems, arriving late at Emerald Headingley due to hold-ups on the M62 and also having to reshuffle their squad when it was announced earlier in the day one of their players had tested positive for Covid.

Another two had to self-isolate, including the luckless youngster Lewis Todd who had been due to make his debut.

Huddersfield coach Simon Woolford had said yesterday he expected to only be able to name 16 players but he did manage a full complement after Kenny Edwards came through a late fitness test.

Granted, there was still plenty of experience and quality in their side but, as has proved their nemesis so often in recent weeks, they badly missed the organising quality of captain Aidan Sezer and stand-off Lee Gaskell.

Huddersfield Giants' Sam Wood can't find any way through. (PIC: BRUCE ROLLINSON)

Giants were barely able to escape their own half in the first period, stand-in halves Olly Russell and Tom Holmes both seeing relieving kicks charged down.

Holmes, too, forced an offload that resulted in an easy 50m run-in for Regan Grace and, with one of their rare chances, he threw a long ball directly in to touch.

As always, there was plenty of effort and it was fascinating seeing young props Matty English and Oliver Wilson, in particular, going toe-to-toe with the gnarled England duo of Alex Walmsley and James Graham.

Yorkshireman Walmsley, unusually, had an off-game, twice losing the ball under pressure from Huddersfield defenders, although he did find his range with a wonderful offload for Saints’ second try via Aaron Smith.

Huddersfield Giants youngster Dom Crosby tries an offload. (PIC: BRUCE ROLLINSON)

They had a slice of luck for the first, Lachlan Coote benefiting after a kick took a wicked ricochet off English to land in his grasp after just three minutes.

Coote improved all three tries and added a penalty just before the half-hour mark to make it 20-0.

The Australian full-back, who finished with two tries and nine goals, barely put a foot wrong all night.

With one piece of respite, Owen Trout came off the bench to make a try-scoring debut for Giants at the home of the club where he came through the ranks.

Scoreboard says it all for dejected Huddersfield Giants player (PIC: BRUCE ROLLINSON)

The 20-year-old prop spent last season on loan at Dewsbury Rams from Leeds Rhinos but Woolford took him on this year out of the Championship and he finally got his chance tonight.

Trout made his mark after stealing possession in a one-on-one tackle of Louis McCarthy-Scarsbrook and scampering over from 20m out in the 47th minute.

The former England forward was clearly miffed; he responded in kind with a try of his own just two minutes later to quickly end any thoughts of a sustained Giants renaissance.

Plenty of other Huddersfield youngsters got their chance, former Bradford Bulls hooker Reiss Butterworth debuting off the bench and teenage winger Dom Young, in only his second Super League appearance, showing flashes of why Newcastle Knights are taking him to the NRL in 2021.

But, understandably, they were no match for Saints who eased away in the final quarter, Grace and Coote both completing their doubles with Matty Costello, Dominique Peyroux and Walmsley also adding tries.

Huddersfield Giants: L Senior; McGillvary, Cudjoe, Turner, Crosby; Holmes, Russell; Gavet, O’Brien, English, Hewitt, Joe Wardle, Wood. Substitutes: Butterworth, Edwards, Trout, Wilson.

St Helens: Coote; Costello, Simm, Naiqama, Grace; Lomax, Welsby; Walmsley, Smith, Leeds, Bentley, Knowles, Graham. Substitutes: Peyroux, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Amor, Ashworth.

Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan)

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James Mitchinson