Huddersfield Giants 6 Wigan Warriors 48: Ian Watson faces big challenge ahead of semi-final after worrying collapse

After watching his Huddersfield Giants team wilt in the sun, Ian Watson immediately picked the bones out of the drubbing by Wigan Warriors in conversation with assistant Luke Robinson.

The pair were standing side by side on the pitch where the Giants had just surrendered one week out from a Challenge Cup semi-final.

Huddersfield were in the game at half-time but had the look of a broken team by the time Abbas Miski completed the rout.

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Wigan scored eight tries in all to highlight why they are regarded as the favourites to retain their Super League crown, Miski and Bevan French scoring doubles to add to Liam Marshall's hat-trick.

The Giants are long odds to join the Warriors in the play-offs on the evidence of their early home games.

Watson has rightly pointed to the imbalance in the loop fixtures after being handed two games against both St Helens and Wigan in the opening 11 rounds but there were worrying signs in their latest defeat to one of Super League's biggest hitters, a fourth in as many matches at the John Smith's Stadium this season.

Huddersfield simply capitulated to leave Watson and Robinson with a big job on their hands as they switch their attention to a semi-final date with Warrington Wolves, a thought that must have crossed their minds during the post-match inquest.

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Hull KR – smarting from a defeat of their own at the hands of Warrington – may be just as concerned after watching Wigan return to their scintillating best.

Huddersfield players look on during a damaging defeat. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/ players look on during a damaging defeat. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/
Huddersfield players look on during a damaging defeat. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/

Since Rovers beat their semi-final opponents at Craven Park, the Warriors have swatted aside Catalans Dragons and now Huddersfield.

For a while, Wigan were in a game at the John Smith's Stadium after almost making the worst possible start.

There were shades of Adrian Morley's infamous red card against Australia when Liam Byrne caught Oliver Wilson high from the kick-off.

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However, the Wigan prop escaped with a yellow card and the Warriors covered for his absence expertly.

Ashton Golding tries to lift his team-mates. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/ Golding tries to lift his team-mates. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/
Ashton Golding tries to lift his team-mates. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/

The defending champions took the lead at the end of the next set with Huddersfield pressing for the opener.

Former Wigan man Sam Halsall claimed Tui Lolohea's cross-field kick but offloaded straight into the hands of Marshall who raced 90 metres to score.

For the third week running, the Giants were guilty of conceding a try while in possession.

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Harry Smith added the extras from out wide and then knocked over a penalty after Adam Keighran was taken out chasing a kick to give the 12 men of Wigan an 8-0 lead.

Wigan had fun in the sun. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/ had fun in the sun. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/
Wigan had fun in the sun. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/

One Matty English break aside that ended with Adam Clune being crowded out, Huddersfield failed to sufficiently test the depleted visitors.

Even at that early stage, the Giants needed some inspiration from somewhere and Elliot Wallis provided it.

The winger, who was wrongly sent off in the previous game against Salford Red Devils, raced into open field from his own 20 before slowing down, cutting back inside and bamboozling Wigan defenders on his way to the line.

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Jake Connor's conversion cut the deficit to two points but another interception allowed the Warriors to regain control.

French made ground after anticipating Lolohea's pass and touched down later in the set thanks to a dummy and a tired effort from Leroy Cudjoe.

Connor was dragged down just short of the line following an error by Keighran as Huddersfield tried to issue a response but they went into the break 12-6 down and with work to do.

Bevan French runs in to score a try. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/ French runs in to score a try. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/
Bevan French runs in to score a try. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/

Unfortunately for the home fans, the Giants did not have a comeback in them.

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Wigan had done all the running before the interval and got the crucial next try in the early minutes of the second half in a repeat of the first.

It owed to another error by Halsall and Marshall was again the beneficiary, this time indirectly from Jai Field's pass in the next set.

Huddersfield stayed in the fight for a period but collapsed in worrying fashion after Field put French over for his second try.

To their credit, Wigan turned on the style with the competition points in the bag.

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Marshall finished off a silky team try to complete his hat-trick before Kruise Leeming got in on the act courtesy of a classy offload from French.

After Esan Marsters was sin-binned for a trip on French, the 2023 Man of Steel dusted himself down to give Miski an easy finish in the corner.

Miski added a second with the Giants flagging badly to leave Watson facing a rebuilding job.

Huddersfield Giants: Connor, Halsall, Marsters, Naiqama, Wallis, Lolohea, Clune, Wilson, Milner, English, Rushton, Cudjoe, Yates. Substitutes: Greenwood, Hewitt, Golding, Ikahihifo.

Tries: Wallis (14)

Goals: Connor 1/1

Sin bin: Marsters (72)

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Wigan Warriors: Field, Miski, Keighran, Wardle, Marshall, French, Smith, Thompson, O'Neill, Byrne, Nsemba, Farrell, Ellis. Substitutes: Havard, Mago, Leeming, Dupree.

Tries: Marshall (2, 42, 64), French (19, 61), Leeming (67), Miski (74, 78)

Goals: Smith 8/9

Sin bin: Byrne (1)

Referee: Aaron Moore.

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