Lee Gaskell try all Rick Stone’s men have to show
Huddersfield Giants are risking a repeat of last season’s Super League campaign.
After a slow start head coach Rick Stone’s men had to stage recovery in the second half of the season to make the top eight.
With three defeats from their opening four games, the Giants are in danger reproducing last term , and the corner needs turning sooner rather than later after their 22-4 defeat at Wakefield Trinity.
They were in this derby contest at half-time, but were their own worst enemies after the break.
Friday’s postponement of the derby clash proved to have contrasting effects for the West Yorkshire rivals.
For Giants head coach Rick Stone there was a bonus as Australian second rower Tom Symonds, initially left out of the 19- man squad for the game, was declared fit and was on the bench.
It was the 29-year-old’s first call to action in almost a year after a knee injury that required surgery.
For Trinity coach Chris Chester it was the opposite as wing star Tom Johnstone, who would have played had Friday’s game gone ahead, was ruled out with a niggle picked up in training.
Giants centre Lee Haskell reached a milestone as he made his 150th career appearance in a match which went ahead after fans helped clear snow from the terraces and surrounds the previous day, while the pitch was under a heated tent.
The Giants started on the front foot and a neat switch of play by Adam O’Brien resulted in Ollie Roberts being held on the line.
And a minute later they had forced Trinity to drop out from under their own posts.
Such was the visitors’ pressure that Wakefield had to drop out twice more in the opening 10 minutes.
However, the break in the deadlock showed no sign of arriving any time soon and on 19 minutes frustration got the better of both teams as a tackle on Jake Mamo incensed Danny Brough, and the former Trinity half back was penalised for taking matters into his own hands as a melee broke out.
On 26 minutes the home side finally found the guile to create an opening and the space was manufactured for winger Ben Jones-Bishop to go over in the corner and Liam Finn successfully added a kick from the touchline.
However, with two minutes to go to half-time, Giants full-back Mamo cantered through and was held on the line, but Kruise Leeming’s quick play-the-ball put Gaskell over the line, though Brough’s attempt to level the scores went wide.
Trinity suffered another blow on the stroke of half-time as loose forward Tinirau Arona limped off, but for the Giants the test in the second half would be to ask more questions of the home defence.
Four minutes into the second period the Giants conceded a penalty 20 yards from their own line and Finn opted to kick and extend the home side’s lead to four points.
That lead became six when, four minutes later, the Giants again surrendered a penalty close to their own line and Finn again handed out the punishment by landing the goal.
The Giants indiscipline proved even more costly when hooker Kruise Leeming conceded another penalty for not releasing in the tackle and was sin-binned as referee Gareth Hewer lost patience.
The visitors then lost centre Jordan Turner with suspected concussion, and the depleted Giants shipped in points almost immediately as Finn kicked to the corner and Jones-Bishop collected cleanly to touch down his second try.
Finn added the goal and Trinity’s 100% record in Super League 2018 was beginning to look safe.
That was sealed almost on the final whistle as Mason Caton-Brown scored in the corner and Finn landed his fifth goal.
The Giants tightened up their act generally in the closing stages but, as the clock ticked down, they really didn’t look like reducing the gap.
And taking points from this coming Friday’s trip to Widnes is now looking very important if they are to give their campaign the kick-start it needs.
The Giants certainly do not want to get wrapped up in a battle to avoid the bottom four and, heaven forbid, another desperate bid for survival through the Middle 8s.
Trinity created history with a fourth successive victory, which marks their best start to a season since they gained promotion to Super League in 1998.
Wakefield won their first three matches of the 2010 season under John Kear and this term had previously had wins over Hull KR, Salford and Catalans Dragons