Warrington Wolves overcame blizzard-like conditions at the Halliwell Jones Stadium to become only the second team to beat Huddersfield Giants this season and move to within a point of the Super League leaders.
Both teams deserved enormous credit for defying atrocious conditions to produce an entertaining game for the crowd of 9,797, but the Wolves took the spoils thanks largely to a magnificent defensive effort which kept the table-toppers try-less for the first time this year.
Stand-off Stefan Ratchford scored a try in each half and former Huddersfield captain Brett Hodgson finished with 16 points for the home side as they extended their winning run against the Giants to five matches and underlined their status as title favourites.
Huddersfield captain Danny Brough gave his side the lead with a ninth-minute penalty after second row Brett Ferres had been tackled high in front of the Warrington posts, but it proved to be their only points.
Playing into the teeth of the blustery gale, the Giants adopted a conservative approach and rarely threatened Wolves’ tryline. Front row forwards Craig Kopczak and Stuart Fielden got through plenty of work as the visitors took the ball down the middle and initially kept their errors down to a minimum.
Warrington were always the more adventurous side and, when the ball stuck in the sub-zero temperatures, they looked dangerous and fully deserved their 14-2 interval lead.
They scored their first try midway through the first half when full-back Hodgson’s long pass exposed a gap on the Huddersfield flank and gave winger Chris Riley an unopposed run to the line.
Hodgson kicked the touchline conversion and increased his side’s lead with a 29th-minute penalty before the home side put together the best move of the match to score their second try.
Centre Ryan Atkins scythed through the heart of the visitors’ defence on halfway and Chris Bridge backed him up before sending Ratchford over for his first try, which Hodgson converted.
Hodgson again punished Huddersfield’s indiscipline with a second penalty 90 seconds into the second half to make it 16-2 and Warrington tightened their grip midway through the second half when Ratchford went over again.
The Giants looked to have diffused the danger caused by Richie Myler’s grubber kick on the last tackle, but defender Aaron Murphy succeeded only in palming the ball into the grateful arms of Ratchford.
As the Wolves piled on the pressure, back row Simon Grix was denied a try for obstruction, but there was no stopping Hodgson on 68 minutes when he finished off some slick passing by Micky Higham and Myler.
Hodgson converted his own try to take his goal tally to six from as many attempts.
Warrington Wolves: Hodgson, Riley, Bridge, Atkins, J Monaghan, Ratchford, Myler, Carvell, M Monaghan, Hill, Grix, Westwood, Cooper. Substitutes: Waterhouse, Currie, Higham, Wood.
Huddersfield Giants: Grix, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Wardle, Murphy, Brough, Robinson, Fielden, Lunt, Kopczak, Ferres, Ferguson, Fairbank. Substitutes: Crabtree, Faiumu, Patrick, Cording.
Referee: B Thaler (Wakefield).