St Helens 13 Huddersfield Giants 12: Visitors left kicking themselves after missing golden chance to end losing streak

Once the dust settles on a pulsating Super League clash at the Totally Wicked Stadium, Ian Watson will be able to take the positives from Huddersfield Giants' performance.

But the manner of the defeat will sting after spurning a golden opportunity to end their long losing run against St Helens.

Jake Connor – so often at his best when he gets in a running battle with an opponent – was rattled by Daryl Clark who went on to score a crucial try that set up the chance for Jonny Lomax to win it for Saints with 36 seconds remaining.

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Connor was busy remonstrating with referee Liam Moore as Clark darted over and could not regain his focus to get the Giants over the line.

But for a high tackle by Adam Milner that gifted St Helens the field position for the winning play, Huddersfield would have taken the game to golden point.

Watson's men appeared to be well on course for their first win over Saints since 2020 when they raced into a 12-0 lead, Kevin Naiqama scoring against his former club on his 100th Super League appearance before Adam Swift did likewise with his 15th try of the season.

But the Giants slowly lost their grip on the game and were starved of field position in the second half as Clark added to Tommy Makinson's first-half breakaway try.

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The result ends Huddersfield's five-match winning run but they have shown enough in the opening nine rounds – a start that has featured seven away games – to suggest they will be in the play-off conversation at the very least.

St Helens celebrate a hard-fought win. (Photo: Paul Currie/ Helens celebrate a hard-fought win. (Photo: Paul Currie/
St Helens celebrate a hard-fought win. (Photo: Paul Currie/

The Giants showed defensive resilience and did not take a backward step against Super League's most successful club.

Perhaps, in the end, the loss of in-form centre Esan Marsters was one injury too many for Huddersfield, although he was not missed in the opening exchanges.

Buoyed by back-to-back away wins at Catalans Dragons and Leeds Rhinos, Huddersfield made a confident start with Tui Lolohea going through his repertoire of kicks to put St Helens under the pump.

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The warning signs were there for the hosts, Makinson failing to claim a high kick before knocking a grubber dead under pressure.

Huddersfield celebrate Kevin Naiqama's opening try. (Photo: Paul Currie/ celebrate Kevin Naiqama's opening try. (Photo: Paul Currie/
Huddersfield celebrate Kevin Naiqama's opening try. (Photo: Paul Currie/

Lolohea laid on the opening try at the third attempt after turning his attention to the right edge.

The half-back sent over a cross-field kick that was knocked back by Connor and Harry Rushton was on the spot to put Naiqama over out wide.

Connor nailed the conversion in confident fashion before playing an important role in Huddersfield's second try.

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The full-back held the attention of Makinson to put Swift away down the left and the in-form winger caused chaos with a chip over the top.

Adam Swift continued his sparkling start to the season. (Photo: Paul Currie/ Swift continued his sparkling start to the season. (Photo: Paul Currie/
Adam Swift continued his sparkling start to the season. (Photo: Paul Currie/

Swift followed up his kick and was rewarded when the ball evaded Waqa Blake under close attention from Lolohea.

Connor added the extras to leave the travelling fans in dreamland but mistakes began to creep into Huddersfield's game, with Jake Bibby alone guilty of three handling errors and Connor kicking out on the full from his own 20.

The Giants pushed their luck too far, Makinson reading Lolohea's looping pass to race 60 metres and dive over under the posts.

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Huddersfield steadied themselves and sensed an opportunity to go into the interval with a two-score lead, only for Adam Clune to slice a drop-goal attempt well wide.

Saints lifted the intensity at the start of the second half and thought they had a second try to celebrate after a big effort from a deep kick. However, Matt Whitley's effort was chalked off for a tackle in the air on Elliot Wallis.

Tempers flared in the aftermath of the challenge to add an extra edge to a hard-fought contest.

Tommy Makinson, right, scored against the run of play. (Photo: Paul Currie/ Makinson, right, scored against the run of play. (Photo: Paul Currie/
Tommy Makinson, right, scored against the run of play. (Photo: Paul Currie/

Connor found himself in a running battle with Saints hooker Clark and was guilty of losing focus when he was penalised for an incorrect play the ball after fielding a kick.

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The playmaker would have been relieved when Clark had a try correctly disallowed for a clear knock-on in the build-up but he failed to get his head back in the game and paid a heavy price.

With Connor complaining to Moore about an alleged punch from Morgan Knowles, Clark dummied his way over from acting-half.

Mark Percival levelled the scores to set up the opportunity for Saints to complete the turnaround.

The home side dominated the territory battle in the second half but could not find the killer blow, Blake failing to pull off an acrobatic finish before Jack Welsby was shut down following a half-break.

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A Saints winner felt inevitable and it finally arrived in the final minute when Lomax punished an overzealous tackle from Milner with a 40-metre drop goal.

St Helens: Bennison, Makinson, Hurrell, Percival, Blake, Welsby, Lomax, Mata'utia, Mbye, Lees, Whitley, Batchelor, Knowles. Substitutes: Clark, Bell, Sironen, Delaney.

Tries: Makinson (27), Clark (62)

Goals: Percival 2/2

Drop goal: Lomax (80)

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

Tries: Naiqama (5), Swift (11)

Goals: Connor 2/2

Referee: Liam Moore.

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