Huddersfield Giants v Bradford Bulls Super League match report
HAPLESS Huddersfield Giants have lost their unbeaten Super League XVIII record in the most spectacular style.
After storming to the top of the table with four wins from their opening four fixtures, coach Paul Anderson’s men came crashing down to earth against a Bradford Bulls side who thoroughly deserved their 43-18 victory.
In fact, if the margin had been greater no-one could really have complained.
While the Bulls were sharper and hungrier in attack and committed and determined in defence, the shabby Giants were the complete opposite.
To say it was hardly a performance of a side that went into the contest a point clear at the top would be a major understatement.
It was more akin to a display by a side stuttering at the foot of the League ladder. They looked uncomfortable, disjointed and, at times, totally out of their depth.
Granted, the late withdrawal of the inspirational Danny Brough through illness clearly didn’t help their cause.
But even without their chief playmaker, the overall team effort should still have been 100 times better than what they served up, particularly given the personnel that was still available on the day.
The Giants have won – and won well – without Brough in the side in the past, so they should be able to do so again.
Well, they should still have been able to perform a lot, lot better.
But it didn’t take too long for genuine concerns over a Brough-less Giants to emerge.
Huddersfield couldn’t have made a worse opening to the contest, starting as flat as a pancake and conceding two poor tries in the opening nine minutes.
On Bradford’s first attack, Scott Grix spilt Jarrod Sammut’s grubber and the grateful Australian simply scooped up the loose ball and dived over for Jamie Foster to add the first of what would be four first-half conversions.
That should have acted as an early wake-up call for the lethargic hosts.
But instead, the Giants remained in their slumber and were again asleep as Danny Addy’s kick to the corner was patted back by Elliot Kear for Matty Blythe to score with ease.
At that stage, it looked very worrying indeed.
Yet the introduction of Shaun Lunt once again had the desired effect, finally sparking his side into life.
In the 18th minute Huddersfield struck for the first time, with Luke Robinson’s long pass sending former Bulls centre Joe Wardle plunging through.
Grix was unable to land the touchline conversion, but he was making no mistake just three minutes later when the Giants crossed again.
Good work from Lunt took play to the Bradford line and moments later David Faiumu had crashed over by the posts.
At 12-10, the tide appeared to have turned.
How wrong that proved to be!
Instead, the Giants began to commit rugby league suicide once again, immediately gifting the advantage back to their visitors.
Within four minutes Jermaine McGillvary was spilling the ball close to his own line and from the subsequent set, Robinson shot out of the defensive line for Addy to stroll through.
Worse was to come in the 36th minute when the Bulls’right found themselves in acres of space and Brett Kearney needed little invitation to take full advantage.
Grix narrowed the gap to 12 points with a penalty on the stroke of half-time, but it was clear the Giants had big problems.
That was reinforced within five minutes of the restart when Grix collected Addy’s grubber on his own tryline and the opportunistic and influential Sammut took the ball off him in a one-on-one challenge and touched down. Grix made amends just four minutes later when his high kick to the posts was fumbled by the Bradford defence and Lunt took full advantage to score.
Grix’s third goal meant Huddersfield were again just two converted tries adrift.
But it was soon back up to three when Adam O’Brien crashed over from close range in the 53rd minute.
It was yet another soft tries to concede.
Sammut’s drop goal with 17 minutes remaining left the hosts needing to score four times, and it was clearly game over.
Foster was denied a seventh Bulls try for a forward pass soon after and then Sammut spilt the ball with a clear 20m run to the line ahead of him.
But Sammut made sure he wasn’t to be denied a hat trick in the very last seconds when he capitalised on another loose ball and crashed over.
Foster added the conversion to ensure he finished with a seven-out-of-seven haul and rub even more salt into the Giants’ wounds.
In the previous two games against Wigan and Wakefield, they got away with showing a lack of respect when it came to holding on to possession.
Against the Bulls, it never looked like being three escapes on the trot.