WATCH - Salford Red Devils 16 Huddersfield Giants 24: Woolford welcomed with win as Giants march on

ON A grim evening at Salford, there will have been times when new Huddersfield Giants head coach Simon Woolford must have wondered what he had let himself in for.

Almost four weeks after being appointed, the Australian was finally in the country last night and able to at last watch a game live.

It was not pretty – far from it for long periods – and Huddersfield’s grind against Salford Red Devils in miserable May weather was a battle throughout.

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However, this morning the 43-year-old can take his first full day in charge knowing his new side – bottom just a few weeks ago – have now won four consecutive matches to break into Super League’s top-eight for the first time this season.

With a Challenge Cup quarter-final against Catalans Dragons on Thursday marking his first home game, Woolford certainly has a platform on which to build.

Much of that must go down to Chris Thorman, the interim coach who has worked tirelessly to leave them in this position.

As a former hooker, Woolford will have been impressed by Kruise Leeming, too, the 22-year-old who came off the bench to have such a telling impact against a Salford side Giants now oust from eighth.

He had been yellow-carded in their last two outings, both times for needless offences after his side had been placed on team warnings.

Dan Smith celebrates scoring the Giants' second try. Picture Bruce Rollinson

However, last night Leeming, selected for England Knights in March, was far more positive in helping edge the visitors home after they had trailed 10-6.

He had already shown his threat with a stunning run up the middle although, ironically, that almost ended in a Salford try.

Leeming’s pass only found ex-Giants prop Craig Kopczak who immediately sent Niall Evalds flying the other way, Jordan Rankin eventually dragging him down just inches short.

Nevertheless, the Swaziland-born No 9 showed his class by running on the last tackle close to the Salford line and slipping Daniel Smith over from close range in the 51st minute for Danny Brough’s conversion to put them ahead.

He repeated the trick soon after, the hosts’ defence being conned by Leeming once more as this time Jordan Turner benefitted. Brough – whose eight points saw him eclipse Lee Briers in fifth in Super League’s all-time record points scorers with 2,238 – converted again.

Fittingly, though, it was Leeming who dummied over himself in the 72nd minute to confirm a first win in six meetings against these opponents. Junior Sa’u added his second try late on for Salford but there was no danger to the West Yorkshire club by then.

Woolford had arrived in the country just a few hours before kick-off but immediately linked up with the squad and watched on during the warm-up before taking a seat next to Thorman for the match.

Huddersfield captain Leroy Cudjoe hoped to make his return from a nine-month injury lay-off but eventually wasn’t named, the likelihood being the ex-England centre will return against Catalans.

For those wanting to impress Woolford, it was a fairly inauspicious start; after a handling error on their own 20, Giants fell behind inside just three minutes as their static defence allowed Evalds to slip centre Sa’u over. It was Sa’u who came to Salford’s rescue soon after when the visitors did create a little space for Jermaine McGillvary.

The England winger juggled Lee Gaskell’s pass, though, giving his opponent just enough time to get across and nudge him into touch before getting the ball down.

Instead, Robert Lui increased Salford’s lead with a penalty before Thorman’s side did get their execution right for Jake Mamo’s fine cut-out pass to send winger Darnell McIntosh over untouched. Brough could not convert but did level the game with his own penalty attempt.

Nevertheless, they immediately fell behind again when conceding a woeful try.

Brough tried rushing out to close down Lui on the last tackle but, not for the first time, the Australian stand-off slipped past him and got the ball away.

Still, there was little danger as Derrell Olpherts kicked on hopefully but full-back Rankin dallied hoping the ball would run dead.

It never did and Evalds pounced. That meant Salford went in 10-6 ahead but, for all their endeavour, they struggled to break down Huddersfield’s well-marshalled defence in that second period. Leeming came to the fore and they had no answer to his cleverness near the line.

Salford Red Devils: Evalds; Olpherts, Bibby, Sa’u, Johnson; Lui, Shorrocks; Mossop, Tomkins, Murray, Griffin, Lannon, Flanagan. Substitutes: Wood Kopczak, Hauraki, Nakubuwai.

Huddersfield Giants: Rankin; McGillvary, Gaskell, Mamo, McIntosh; Turner Brough; Ta’ai, O’Brien, Clough, Mellor, Roberts, Hinchcliffe. Substitutes: Leeming Smith English Ikahihifo.,

Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).