HORRENDOUS Huddersfield Giants slumped to another bitterly disappointing defeat as their Super League season continues on a downward spiral.
For the opening 30 minutes, Paul Anderson’s men were competitive and deserved to be in the hunt at 6-6.
But once newly-crowned Challenge Cup winners Warrington struck twice in the final six minutes to lead 16-6 at the break, everything fell apart.
While the Wolves’ confidence grew, the Giants’ flowed away at an alarming rate of knots – as did their challenge.
In the final quarter, the home side scored almost at will to leave the Giants battered, bruised and demoralised.
Huddersfield still have next week’s final home game against Leeds Rhinos and a play-off clash at Hull FC to try and re-discover the form that took them to the top of the table six long months ago.
But judging by the events at the Halliwell Jones Stadium, a week or two to right the wrongs seems an impossible task!
Yes, Warrington were outstanding, and that’s something that shouldn’t be overlooked.
But, again, their cause was helped considerably by the generous nature of their visitors, who really have developed an excellent way in which to hit the self-destruct button. Their inability to hold onto the ball really has become a massive concern.
Getting that sorted has to be the starting point, and it’s then a case of taking things from there.
In their defence, the Giants were hit over the weekend by the very late withdrawals through illness of Danny Brough and Luke George.
That clearly didn’t help, but there was surely still more than enough quality in this line-up to do far better than this.
George’s absence meant fit-again winger Matty Dawson, who has missed most of this season with a knee injury, was finally able to make his Super League debut after impressing for the past two seasons in the Under 20s following his move from Castleford Tigers.
And his first touch after three minutes when he weaved confidently through several defenders suggested the 21-year-old has the potential to be a top-flight regular.
That was one bright moment during an encouraging Giants opening in which Leroy Cudjoe was held up over the tryline by a stretched Wolves defence.
But they failed to make a crucial breakthrough when they were looking good, and it was the hosts who eventually took the lead after 17 minutes.
A midfield break from prop Chris Hill forced the Huddersfield defence on the back foot, and the front-rower fed Stefan Ratchford whose kicked perfectly to the corner for Joel Monaghan to gather with ease and touch down for former Giants full-back Brett Hodgson to land the conversion.
That gave Warrington an extra spring in their step as they began to apply more pressure, although the Giants defence was doing a sterling job, with one cover tackle by Joe Wardle on a rampaging Joel Monaghan a highlight.
But an even bigger highlight came in the 29th minute, thanks almost exclusively to Scott Grix.
After producing a tremendous 40-20 kick to put his side on the attack, the half-back was then on hand to collect the ball 5m out under the Warrington posts and glide through a static defence to score with ease and bang over the goal to level the scores.
Unfortunately, the Wolves wasted little time finding the perfect response, regaining the lead within five minutes as former Giants Academy man Chris Bridge finished off a sweeping move to score in exactly the same place as their opener, although Hodgson on this occasion failed to convert.
And that lead was extended on their next attack when Richie Myler’s grubber-kick hit a post for Ratchford to have the simple task of picking up and touching down for the easiest try he'll ever score.
All of a sudden it was 16-6 and Warrington had the half-time momentum.
Just like in the first half, a lot of the opening second-half play was scrappy, with dropped ball a theme of the day.
As a result, it was 12 minutes before any more points were added as Hodgson weaved his magic and fed Myler to charge in for a third converted score.
At 22-6, the game was already slipping out of the Giants’ grasp.
And that was confirmed on the hour mark.
Greg Eden did well to halt a strong Rhys Williams charge just short of the line, but Hodgson immediately collected possession and ran across the face of the defence before finding a gap and shooting through.
More good work from Hodgson then put Williams over for his side’s sixth try.
All credit to Huddersfield, they refused to wave the white flag and attempted a short re-start.
But the ploy backfired as the Wolves gobbled up the opportunity to carve open their opponents again for Ryan Atkins to charge down the middle and over, with Hodgson converting to bring up the 40-point mark.
And the misery continued on the next set, with Warrington over again after creating the overlap for Joel Monghan to squeeze in at the corner.
It got even worse moments later when Grix’s kick-off went out on the full and within a couple more plays Joel Monaghan completed his hat trick.
With man-of-the-match Hodgson failing to add the conversions to those last two efforts, Warrington had failed to reach the half-century.
But that all changed with the last play of the game before Chris Hill collected Micky Higham’s offload to storm over under the posts for Hodgson convert and make it another miserable day for the Giants.
Huddersfield’s Under 20s side were thrashed 92-0 by Warrington in a Valvoline Cup curtain-raiser.