Huddeersfield Giants v London Broncos match report
IT WAS always going to be almost impossible for the Giants to reach the dizzy heights of their stunning Super League XVIII opening-night win at St Helens.
But despite Huddersfield failing to fire on all cylinders they were able to collect two more League points with so much to spare.
And, in that respect, this success may be as noteworthy.
The Giants were at times flat, unsure and stuttering, but never once looked as if they were going to lose.
As everyone knows, that’s often the sign of a good side. One that under-performs yet is still the dominant force.
Shaun Lunt once again caught the eye with his two tries, but there was just as much interest in the arrival of Ukuma Ta’ai.
The powerhouse former New Zealand Warriors back-row forward was handed a debut from the bench, despite having only arrived in England on Tuesday following a frustrating delay in receiving his work permit.
But even though his time on the field was limited because of his lack of match fitness, there were still some very encouraging signs.
Ta’ai took the place of Luke O’Donnell, adding further fuel to the fire that the former Australia Test back-row forward was returning home to join Sydney Roosters.
And, with O’Donnell absent after playing loose-forward in the win at Saints, England prop Eorl Crabtree was a surprise starter from the back of the pack.
Yet the change certainly didn’t upset the big fella as he opened the scoring in the seventh minute.
After Stuart Fielden had been held up over the line, the ball was worked to Shaun Lunt, who fed Craig Kopczak to offload superbly to create the opening for Crabtree to charge over from 5m. Danny Brough had no trouble converting.
The Giants skipper also made no mistake with his second 11 minutes when later when Shaun Lunt plunged over from acting half-back in typical fashion after Kopczak had been halted on the line.
Despite being totally outplayed, the Broncos showed they had the potential to be a threat when Luke Dorn’s smart inside pass sent Shane Rodney crashing over from close range and Shane Grady added the extras.
Jermaine McGillvary almost added his side’s third try in the 36th minute but just failed to collect Scott Grix’s smart grubber to the corner.
The arrival shortly after of Ta’ai gave the crowd a lift, but that was short-lived as within moments David Faiumu was having to be helped off the field after taking the heaviest of knocks.
The Giants had an uncomfortable start to the second half when the impressive Jason Chan was placed on report for an alleged spear tackle.
Huddersfield were also lacking a great deal of cohesion, with the likes of Lunt and Leroy Cudjoe both coming up with uncharacteristic errors.
But the nerves were settled in the 53rd minute when Crabtree took on the Broncos line on the sixth tackle and fed the supporting Kopczak to finish off for converted try No3.
Their fourth followed with 17 minutes when Lunt charged down a London kick, collected the ball and raced 40m for his second to extend the lead to 24-6.
With the visitors’ defence beginning to tire, Brett Ferres took full advantage to show great strength and barge over from close range five minutes later.
And with a minute remaining, Joe Wardle put the icing on the cake by charging over from 25m for Brough to land his fifth conversion from six attempts to secure a comfortable 34-6 success.