The Wigan Warriors looked to wrap up second spot with a victory over the Huddersfield Giants and it wasn’t going to be easy for them on a wet and windy night at the John Smiths Stadium.
Ryan Hinchcliffe led out the Giants in what would be his last home game of his career as he retires at the end of the current campaign.
With the Warriors looking to secure a home semi-final they were playing open rugby against Huddersfield but the slippery condition shut down their first attack as they failed to keep hold of the ball, but immediately regained the ball as Jake Mamo passed the ball forward.
Wigan were the first team the cross the line as Tom Davies and Jordan Rankin chased to ground the ball in the in-goal area but Rankin was the first to reach the ball and a goal line drop out was the decision.
The Giants were welcoming the Warriors into their own 20 metres and were the first the concede a penalty as Oliver Russell was caught holding on for too long in the tackle. Wigan opted the take a shot at goal and Sam Tomkins converted for an early 2-0 lead for the away side.
The Giants then conceded three penalties on the bounce as Wigan charged up the field with confidence. Once the Warriors had the Giants trapped it was Morgan Escare’s who scored the first try of the night. An out the back ball to the full back was well read by the Giants defence but Escare stepped back inside and through the flailing arms of Alex Mellor to score. Tomkins missed the conversion attempt to make it a six point lead with just under a quarter of the game played.
The first time the Giants put pressure on the Wigan try line they won themselves a penalty as Joe Greenwood was caught for too long in the tackle but Akuma Ta’ai dropped the ball the relieve the Warriors of any pressure.
However, Matty English put a big shot on George Williams to get the ball back for his side. The Giants then forced a goal line drop out from Wigan after Danny Brough stabbed a perfect kick through the defensive line. The resulting set came to nothing for the home side.
After the Wigan markers were penalised for not being square, Huddersfield kicked to touch and set up just 30 metres out from the Warriors line and forced another goal line drop out with an early kick from Lee Gaskell.
Joe Greenwood then conceded another penalty as it became Wigans turn to welcome the pressure onto their own line.
This pressure didn’t toll though as unorganised play was snuffed out by Sam Tomkins.
Wigan then powered up the field once more as Huddersfield gave away penalties of their own. The Huddersfield defence nearly couldn’t hold on as much as Wigan’s could as Greenwood powered over the line but the ball was stolen in the tackle and Wigan reset 10 metres out from the line. However, Gabriel Hamlin knocked the ball on after a big tackle from Colton Roche.
Danny Brough then showed us why he is such a good player as his high kick was not able to be gathered by Warriors winger Davies and Huddersfield attacked once more as the half drew to a close.
The Giants then thought they had scored through Matty English as he slid towards the line but the prop forward was deemed to have knocked the ball in the tackle and Huddersfield were denied once more before half-time.
Half-Time: Huddersfield Giants 0-6 Wigan Warriors
The first five minutes of the first half were very open terms of play but tight in terms of scoreline as neither team managed to get ahead in the opening exchanges. However, the Huddersfield defence was definitely the most prominent after they forced Oliver Gildart into touch.
Huddersfield turned their defence into attack well but just couldn’t break through the Wigan defence and the Giants let them off as they escaped their own half with their defensive line being called offside.
Then as Wigan looked to put some more pressure on the Giants line, Morgan Escare took an surprising drop goal attempt and managed to out the ball through the uprights, all be it with a scuffed kick with 20 minutes remaining.
Huddersfield were not afraid to step up and take the game to the Warriors though as Danny Brough put them on the front foot with a huge 40-20. Dom Manfredi then interfered at the play the ball to give Huddersfield more territory. Lee Gaskell then managed to force a goal line drop out from Wigan after kicking the ball from dummy half and nearly scoring the ugliest try ever scored in Super League.
Huddersfield then failed to exit there own half as Oliver Russell was penalised for obstruction and Wigan took full advantage of their field position and George Williams’ kick was dived on by Tom Davies but Een Thaler, the TMO, deemed that the winger had knocked on.
The Giants were then immediately back in the hunt as they powered their way up the pitch and Kruise Leeming picked the ball up from dummy-half and dived over the Warriors line. Danny Brough converted his attempt at goal and Huddersfield were back with in a point with eight minutes remaining.
Wigan then looked to stop the Giants in their tracks but Williams knocked the ball on under no pressure and Huddersfield regained the ball.
The game looked to be close heading into the final four minutes but Wigan were gifted more easy territory as Morgan Escare was hit high by Danny Brough, who was also sent to the sin-bin, as he ran across the field.
Wigan then did finally close the game out and confirmed a sixth home semi-final in seven years as George Williams dabbed a kick through the Giants line and Gildart managed to dive on the ball cleanly and score for the away side. Tomkins added the extra to make it 13-6 to Wigan with 90 seconds remaining.
Despite no more scoring on the night, Sam Tomkins was hit late as the hooter went by Jake Mamo and the Wigan players took exception to the tackle but no penalty was given and the final whistle was blown.
Full-Time: Huddersfield Giants 6-13 Wigan Warriors
Sky Man of the Match: Morgan Escare – The scorer of Wigans first try and a drop-goal was in the end the difference between the two sides. As well as this, he was extremely comfortable under the high ball in the wind and rain in West Yorkshire.
My Man of the Match: Kruise Leeming – The Huddersfield hooker was class for the home side and in better weather conditions could well have led his side to victory. His try was very well taken as he took the Warriors by surprise with a good scoot from the ruck.
Gaskell, Rankin, Mellor, Mamo, Senior, Russell, Brough, Lawrence, O’Brien, Matagi, Ta’ai, Roberts, Hinchcliffe.
Subs: Leeming, Clough, English, Roche.
Goals: Brough (1/1)
Escare, Manfredi, Gildart, Sarginson, Davies, Williams, Tomkins, Clubb, Powell, Navarrete, Greenwood, Bateman, Sutton.
Subs: Hamlin, Partington, Woods, Tautai.
Goals: Tomkins (1/2)
Featured Image: @loverugbyleague