Time for Giants to put their foot down in the fast lane, says Ferres

Huddersfield Giants Brett Ferres (right) celebrates with Shaun Lunt
Huddersfield Giants Brett Ferres (right) celebrates with Shaun Lunt
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SUPER League’s top six is currently as congested as the M25 on a Bank Holiday Monday.

Just four points separate St Helens in first and Huddersfield Giants in sixth place.

Warrington Wolves' Ben Westwood

Warrington Wolves' Ben Westwood

Either of those – or Leeds Rhinos, Wigan Warriors, Warrington Wolves and Castleford Tigers who edge along in between – can mathematically still win the League Leaders’ Shield.

There are just three regular rounds remaining, though, and if sides do not make a move soon, they will be gridlocked.

Huddersfield, for their part, have every intention of finding the fast lane and Brett Ferres, their England second-row, knows victory at Warrington tonight will be a timely manoeuvre.

“We’re probably not looking at the League Leaders’ Shield,” he said, having already helped Huddersfield finish top for the first time in 81 years last season.

“But, if we win all three of our games, we do give ourselves a really good chance.

“We play two teams above us – Warrington and then Saints at home on the last day – while, next week, we’re at a Hull FC side who are desperate for points.

“It’s going to be a tough task but we want to be firing heading into the play-offs.”

Huddersfield sit sixth but only due to an inferior points different to Castleford, Warrington and Leeds, all four sides, remarkably, level with each other.

Wigan are a point better off but Ferres’s side can get a head start on the rest tonight and usurp the reigning champions from second with a fifth successive win.

Warrington have won just two of their last five games in all competitions, losing to Leeds in the Challenge Cup semi-final but responding with an emphatic 
48-10 rout of Castleford in their last home outing.

Furthermore, in Super League alone, Tony Smith’s side have won 11 of their last 13 games to suggest they are well-primed to reach a third Grand Final and challenge hard for a first championship since 1955.

Ferres admitted: “They’ve been slow starters this year but seem to have got into a rhythm and have started winning now.

“Once that ball starts to move around, too, they are hard to handle and are a side that, when they’ve scored once, they can get two or three pretty quickly.

“For us, it’s about stemming that flow and managing their threat.”

Huddersfield, who have not won the league themselves since 1962, are a peculiarity themselves when it comes to form. Paul Anderson’s side have lost just twice in their last 10 league games but Ferres says that run has left them surprisingly cold.

“A lot of us have been saying we haven’t really performed and aren’t really doing what we set out to do or expect to do,” said the vice-captain, who was banned when the Giants let a half-time lead slip to lose 33-14 against Warrington in March.

“The important thing, though, is we’re winning games. We’re all still wanting and waiting for that performance to click again.

“Hopefully, it’ll happen on Thursday and we can take it on.”

He is relishing his own battle with England colleague Ben Westwood, the uncompromising second-row from Wakefield who so often provides the drive for Warrington’s stylish backs to work their magic.

Ferres, 28, said: “He’s a real character on and off the pitch.

“Benny’s a tough player who knows only one way. He’s been very good for a number of years for Warrington and it’ll be good to have a crack at him and try to get one over him.

“Their pack, as a whole, has some big boys in it, though. Chris Hill and Anthony England have both come from the Championship and really established themselves as top players.

“It’s down to our pack to get on top of them from the off and show our own quality.”

Huddersfield are almost full-strength and bolstered, too, by the return of England centre Leroy Cudjoe who had missed the last three games with a hip injury.

“We’re quite healthy,” said Ferres, with Kyle Wood their only absentee, and Chris Bridge missing for Warrington.

“Being out of the Cup is never good but what it has done is meant we’ve been able to hold Leroy back a bit longer and got two extra weeks of training in, too.

“People have been carrying bumps and bruises but they’ve gone now and we’ve done some hard yards in practice.”

Huddersfield, of course, lost 30-22 the last time they made this trip, Warrington having picked them in ClubCall as their 2013 play-off semi-final opponents.

“That was tough at the time,” said Ferres. “But we’re a new group and we’re only concerned with what we can achieve this year.”