16th February 2017
Giants slip to defeat against Salford Red Devils at the John Smith's Stadium.
Huddersfield Giants were beaten by Salford Red Devils 30-20 at the John Smith’s Stadium.
Gareth O’Brien proved the difference with his 22 points and it proved enough to seal the two points for Salford Red Devils.
Both sides matched each other for large parts of the encounter, with Ukuma Ta’ai and Sebastine Ikahihifo producing an influential performance as the Giants attack looked to penetrate the away side.
Five new signings made their home debut for the Giants as Ta’ai, Jermaine McGillvary and a brace from Alex Mellor produced tries for the home side.
The Giants started the brightest with good combination play from two recent signings as Lee Gaskell came close to playing in Mellor on the left flank.
However, it was the Red Devils who were first on the scoreboard, with Ikahihifo conceding a penalty that Gareth O’Brien scored for a 2 point lead in the first 10 minutes.
Whilst the Giants continued to make ground in the Red Devils half, the visitors defended well to prevent the final ball from releasing the on-rushing Claret and Gold attackers on the search for the first home try of the season.
Ikahihifo began a classy move by charging into the Salford defence before offloading to Ryan Hinchcliffe, whose perfectly weighted looping ball released McGillvary to freely touch down on the right wing.
Salford were quick to reply through Junior Sa’u when he was played in by a late pass from O’Brien, who then successfully kicked the conversion.
The first half was a closely fought, entertaining battle between the two sides, however, Salford were awarded a penalty for a ball steal on the 39th minute, which O’Brien duly kicked to put the score at 4-10.
Salford flew out of the blocks to a try in the first minute of the second-half as Robert Lui released O’Brien down the middle, who went on to convert his own try.
Five minutes later and Salford thought they had another, only for it to be disallowed as Gregory Johnson’s knee touched the side-line.
The Giants replied to the early pressure from the visitors with a try of their own as Mellor darted through the Salford defence, brushing off numerous attempted challenges on his way over.
After assisting the Giants centre with a clever pass, Brough did superbly to convert the resulting kick from the wide left touchline.
It was a combination that paid off again just two minutes later, with Brough playing in Mellor down the left to bring the score to 14-16 as the Giants gained momentum.
This run of play nearly continued to pay off for the Giants with a clean break from Gaskell, only to be caught by the Salford defence.
But it wasn’t to last as Gareth O’Brien got his second try of the game after he held off his marker and swivelled into space to touch down, also converting the resulting kick to make it 14-22.
The Giants closed the gap shortly afterward as Ukuma Ta’ai powered his way over the line with a trademark driving run at the visitors back line.
Brough was again on target with the resulting kick to bring the Giants to within touching distance of the Red Devils with the game finely balanced at 20-22.
It was to be a tense final ten minutes with both teams eager to make the breakthrough.
In a swift breakaway the Giants worked their way into an advanced position only for a loose final pass from Hinchcliffe ending the move.
The Giants comeback hopes were dealt a blow as Josh Jones touched down under pressure from a number of Giants defenders, with O’Brien also converting, making the score 20-28 with only five minutes remaining.
The points were sealed for Salford in the final minute as Michael Lawrence was caught offside, allowing O’Brien to kick for 2 and secure the points for the Red Devils with a 20-30 victory.
Giants: Gaskell, McGillvary, Cudjoe, Mellor, Murphy, Brough, Brierley, Ikahihifo, Hinchcliffe, Ta’ai, Lawrence, Ferguson, Rapira
Interchanges: Wakeman, Leeming, Roberts, Clough
Tries: McGillvary, Mellor (2), Ta’ai
Goals: Brough (2)
Salford: O’Brien, Johnson, Welham, Sa’u, Carney, Lui, Dobson, Kopczak, Tomkins, Mossop, Jones, Griffin, Flanagan
Interchanges: Wood, Krasniqi, Tasi, Walne
Tries: O’Brien (2), Sa’u, Jones
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