Wigan Warriors 16 Huddersfield Giants 18: Huddersfield gatecrash Wigan party with Cudjoe's late double

IT WAS not a case of wanting to ruin Wigan's party; that was just a pleasant by-product as Huddersfield finally overcame a side that has caused them some grief this season.

Nathan Brown's men denied Wigan – for another week at least – the League Leaders' shield last night following a breathtaking finish to an otherwise obscure affair.

A first-half brawl, which left Huddersfield down to 11 men, looked likely to be the main talking point, infuriated Wigan prop Stuart Fielden launching into Keith Mason, Graeme Horne and Darrell Griffin when he was stood on after a tackle.

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But, eventually, though Fielden simmered throughout upon his return, it was some brilliance from Giants pair Leroy Cudjoe and Brett Hodgson which settled the contest.

Having lost to Wigan at Murrayfield in May amid fiery circumstances, and again just a fortnight later, Huddersfield will not care in the slightest how this heroic win came about but it was Cudjoe, the athletic young centre recently called into the England squad, who proved crucial with two second-half tries that stunned their hosts.

The Giants had trailed 10-0 at the break having been stymied by Wigan for much of the first half.

When they did have the ball, Brown's side seemed strangely lethargic and hesitant but they finally rallied to create some cohesive play and unlocked their stubborn opponents.

David Fa'alogo cleverly found Cudjoe who quickly released Michael Lawrence into space.

The young winger tried rounding Sam Tomkins and, when denied, flung a hopeful pass back infield which Fielden should have dealt with.

He flapped and Cudjoe followed up for his 20th Super League try of the season.

Brett Hodgson converted and then unleashed namesake David with a flat cut-out pass and the former Wigan winger advanced before kicking infield where Luke Robinson seized on the hosts' hesitancy to pick up and dive in at the corner.

Brett Hodgson slotted a perfect touchline kick to nudge Huddersfield in front 12-10 but Robinson's errant pass looked likely to cost his side.

Pat Richards intercepted and, although quickly shackled, from the play-the-ball Sam Tomkins picked up and set off on a mesmerising 75-metre run to put Wigan back in front, eluding Lawrence to break and then effortlessly rounding Brett Hodgson on halfway before sprinting clear of the chasing Brough.

Gutted Robinson – who had already chastised himself immediately after his pass – was left trudging back with his head in his hands.

However, with eight minutes remaining, former Wakefield star Brough opted against the usual tactic of going wide with his kick by instead lofting a delicate, shortened chip which, with Wigan caught unawares, Cudjoe coolly plucked out of the air to gleefully dive over.

Brett Hodgson converted to nudge his side ahead again and Huddersfield defended admirably as desperate Wigan tried battling back.

"Wigan were definitely on top of us for lots of that first period," said Brown, his struggling side not even venturing into their half until the 15th minute.

"But, to come back from 10-0 down, turning that around and scoring some nice tries, I'm really proud of their efforts.

"We know we need to improve but the players should be really proud of themselves."

Paul Deacon, who has proved a valuable signing for Wigan this year, created both first-half tries with two pinpoint crossfield kicks.

The first, seven minutes in, saw former Bradford team-mate Karl Pryce get above David Hodgson and muscle his way over before the second, not long before the break, saw Joel Tomkins run in.

Defending Pat Richards's lingering threat at crossfield kicks has perplexed Super League wingers all season; Cudjoe took the tactic of not challenging him aerially and dealing with the situation when he grounded but the end result was the same as Joel Tomkins crossed.

Crucially, though, leading points scorer Richards could not convert from wide out.

Huddersfield's Kevin Brown had been sin-binned on 15 minutes after taking out Sam Tomkins in backplay when the England star – as elusive as ever and streamlined further by a brutally shorn haircut – tried supporting Richards.

Moments later came the fight, which ended with Fielden and Mason yellow-carded, the charged-up Wigan man returning to have his finest game of the season but his thwarted side were ultimately denied by Huddersfield's resilience.

With two rounds remaining, and heading to Hull KR on Sunday, coach Michael Maguire still expects them to get the point which will see them finish top for the first time since 2000.

"Those sorts of things will take care of themselves," he said.

"Huddersfield managed to take their chances when the timing was right and we probably didn't play as smart or effective as we have been doing recently but we'll get a lot out of that game," he added.