JOB done. That’s probably the best thing that could be said about Huddersfield’s eighth win of the season as they returned to the top of the Super League XVII table!
Once again, coach Nathan Brown’s men were far from at their best as they just did enough to get the better of a Salford side who huffed and puffed but never really threatened to spoil the Giants’ Good Friday party.
There’s no doubt at all that a repeat performance at home to second-placed Hull on Easter Monday will not be enough to guarantee success.
But there were still more than enough signs to suggest this won’t be the case and the Giants will look more like the real deal in a couple of days’ time.
For starters, they’ve got fresh and eager senior players waiting in the wings to return – and play – in David Fa’alogo, Scott Grix, Keith Mason and Joe Wardle. Grix, in fact, would have been involved against the City Reds had his wife not gone into labour!
And it wouldn’t be too unkind to suggest that the substitutions in the final quarter when the game was won had something to do with keeping men fresh for the bigger black and white challenge ahead.
It would, however, be unkind to say that an under-par Giants performance was because all 17 players on show were struggling.
Tommy Lee again underlined his versatility with his best display in a Giants shirt by jumping between hooker and scrum half to be named the man-of-the-match.
Full-back Greg Eden was again to the fore, while Michael Lawrence ran strongly back in the centres to celebrate his 100th Giants appearance in style and Luke O’Donnell looked stronger the more the game progressed.
The former Australia Test forward was encouraged by his return at Leeds the week before in what was his first game since undergoing a full knee reconstruction six months ago, and he should be even more encouraged by the events of yesterday.
At the same time, it was also be unfair to dismiss out of hand the contribution of the visitors on the day, who didn’t make it easy for their hosts.
Under former Giants captain and temporary coach Phil Veivers, Salford are looking a pretty tidy side. A place in the top eight proves that.
And in the opening exchanges they showed exactly why they are tipped by many to reach the play-offs.
Within four minutes, centre Joel Moon had shown how dangerous he can be by setting up Jodie Broughton for the opener.
Then the City Reds added a second – again down the Giants’ right – 19 minutes later when Moon finished off himself and Daniel Holdsworth landed the conversion to make it 12-10 at the time.
But that was that for Veivers and his men.
For the rest of the contest it was the Giants all the way as they cruised over for six tries, all of which were converted by Danny Brough, and had a couple of others disallowed.
Luke Robinson had an effort wiped out for a double movement, while Leroy Cudjoe and Kevin Brown had others chalked off for forward passes.
All three were highly debatable calls by ‘unpopular’ referee Robert Hicks, but thankfully it didn’t matter in the final analysis.
By half-time the Giants had built up an 18-10 lead before reinforcing their growing dominance after the break.
Jermaine McGillvary set the ball rolling for his side by scoring in the corner off Lee’s long’ lofted pass and then Lawrence added the second after capitalising on good work from Kevin Brown and Luke George.
Try No3, which came after 27 minutes to put the Giants in command at 18-10, was courtesy of a typical off-load from David Faiumu close to the line to give Lee an easy finish.
Great second-half defence meant Salford hardly got a sniff, whereas the Giants doubled their tally.
Shaun Lunt as the first to strike eight minutes after the restart when he crossed from acting half-back a yard out a minute after being introduced off the substitutes bench.
Good approach play paved the way for the industrious Lee to dummy his way over in the 53rd minute to make it 30-10.
With four minutes remaining Lawrence showed great speed and strength to enable the supporting Eden to finish off with relative ease.
It was a score well worthy of a side at the top of the Super League table!