New Huddersfield coach Rick Stone believes his side need “a change in mindset” to improve as they go into next week’s final round of the regular season bottom of the Super League table.
The Giants lost 34-18 at home to a resurgent St Helens and are now set to face four away games in the Qualifiers, where they will fight for their top-flight survival.
Stone only arrived in the UK on Wednesday morning and admitted his first taste of live Super League action was an eye-opener.
“We showed some real good things, plenty of bad things and everything in between,” he said. “We fought hard but gave away some soft tries.
“The first 15 minutes of the second half put us in a position to put some pressure on Saints but we couldn’t maintain that pressure.
“They play differently in the Super League to what I’m used to (in the Australian NRL) and there was some real frivolous stuff from us – the degree of difficulty of some of the options we took was way too high and the outcomes weren’t always great and we paid for that on the scoreboard.
“There is going to have to be a change in mentality and mindset from our players if we are going to start improving.
“We had 22 sets to Saints’ 16 in the second half so we had enough ball to score some points but made 10 errors so didn’t manage the football well enough.
“The enterprise in attack from both teams was the biggest difference to what I’m used to – the chances they take to make some ground and make breaks and we have to temper that.
“The experience was good for me – the fans, the music and the footy – and we’ll get better,” added Stone.
Tries by Joe Greenwood, Jack Owens, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and Jordan Turner helped Saints to a 22-12 half-time lead, with further scores from Adam Swift and Alex Walmsley confirming the visitors’ fourth successive win and taking them level on points with fourth-placed Catalans Dragons.
Danny Brough, Tom Symonds and Jermaine McGillvary replied for the Giants.
St Helens coach Keiron Cunningham praised his side’s work rate after they continued their recent upward surge.
He said: “I’m elated. I’m proud of how hard the group are working for each other and generally in rugby league you get what you deserve and I think in our last four victories we’ve worked exceptionally hard and got what we deserved.
“The boys have worked exceptionally hard and deserve all the plaudits they get because the comments have gone the other way a couple of times in the last few months. But it was a really professional victory today.”
Cunningham highlighted the importance of finishing the regular season in the top four, adding: “Fourth get more home games than you get away games and we’ve always targeted top four, although a few weeks ago it seemed it might have got away from us.
“We are still reliant on other teams in the final game but all we can take care of is what we do – the variables away from that we can’t do anything about.”
Huddersfield: Connor, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Murphy, Ormsby, Brough, Brierley, Huby, Hinchcliffe, Rapira, Symonds, Lawrence, Ta’ai. Substitutes: Crabtree, Leeming, Roberts, Ikahihifo.
St Helens: Lomax, Owens, Fleming, Percival, Swift, Turner, Walsh, Walmsley, Roby, Richards, Greenwood, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Wilkin. Substitutes: Amor, Vea, Thompson, Knowles.
Referee: J Cobb (RFL).