Huddersfield Giants rediscover identity in win at Toulouse Olympique

HUDDERSFIELD GIANTS took a trip to France to discover what it means to be proud of their home town’s rich Rugby League history.

Coach Ian Watson revealed after Saturday night’s 42-14 opening Super League win over newly-promoted Toulouse Olympique that he was on a mission to rediscover the proud pedigree of the club which dates back to 1864.

Two tries from Jake Wardle and a man-of-the-match display from debutant hooker Danny Levi were enough to take the first points of the new Super League season for the Giants, leaving Watson pining for the good old days.

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He said, “In your first year as a coach at a club, you’ve been brought in for a reason so you’ve got to find out what that reason is. In your second season you should have fixed those issues and start building in the right direction.

Ian Watson: Took his team back to their past during pre-season training.

“For me, it’s all about getting back to that Huddersfield feel and I feel that we’ve done that now. We’ve had a really good pre-season and that included discussions about the history of Huddersfield, bringing in people like Douglas Clark and Tony Johnson (former Giants’ legends) to talk to the boys to let them know what Huddersfield actually means. The identity of Huddersfield has been lost for a couple of years and we’re getting that back now and that’s what you’re going to see in the performances of this team. We want the people of Huddersfield to be proud of their club.”

The small band of Giants supporters who made the trip to Toulouse were certainly proud of their side after a comeback from 10-0 down and a dominant second-half performance.

Huddersfield had to weather an early storm in cold and windy conditions at Stade Ernest Wallon. Toulouse scored their first points in the top flight with a second-minute try for winger Matty Russell, who collected a clever Junior Vaivai pass from the tackle to touchdown in the left corner from short range.

But a couple of penalties put Huddersfield on the offensive with former Warrington prop Chris Hill and Aussie second row Chris McQueen rampaging up the middle, led by debutant French scrum-half Theo Fages and hooker Levi.

A handling mistake by Tui Lolohea put the home team back in control and when Tony Gigot launched a high ball, winger Ilias Bergal collected and grounded in the right corner to make it 10-0 after 20 minutes.

The comeback came when Luke Yates forced his way through the Toulouse line to score beside the posts five minutes later, Oliver Russell adding the conversion, then Yates found Innes Senior on the left wing to level the scores.

Louis Senior followed him in with a 30-metre strike.

Toulouse went further behind with a Russell penalty and were forced into a lengthy series of goal-line drop-outs as the Giants turned the screw. Wardle struck his second, converted from the touchline by Russell then McQueen crossed to rub more salt in French wounds before a late strike by Guy Armitage.