THE Giants were handed a lesson in what it takes to be Super League champions by an impressive Wigan Warriors.
The reigning competition kings may have been lacking several of their top-line stars.
But they were still able to dig incredibly deep to grind out a win that at times looked impossible.
For much of the contest, coach Nathan Brown’s men were on top.
Yet time and again they were denied by a Herculean Wigan defensive effort which made all the difference in the world.
Brown sprung another surprise by handing a full Giants’ Super League debut to 19-year-old centre Joe Wardle. The talented youngster had played a couple of top-flight games off the bench during his Bradford Bulls days, but the Galpharm chief had full confidence he would be up to the challenge of facing the Super League champions in front of the Sky TV cameras.
And the Scotland international certainly showed few nerves with a strong first-half showing.
There was clearly nothing he could do about Wigan’s opening try after just three minutes which was scored down the opposite side to where he was defending.
Thomas Leuluai’s ‘bomb’ on the sixth tackle was collected by Josh Charnley who immediately passed back inside for Sean O’Loughlin to score with ease.
Charnley converted, and the Giants had received an instant wake-up call.
But for the rest of the half it was the home side who posed the bigger threat.
A strong Leroy Cudjoe break after 15 minutes almost brought his side their first points of the contest, but he was well covered and was also unable to release Jamie Simpson, who was also caught by Wigan’s great scrambling effort.
Five minutes later David Fa’alogo also broke from deep but was eventually trapped by the defence, and moments later Wardle was desperately unlucky not to collect Lee Gilmour’s difficult attempted tryscoring pass.
Yet that pressure paid off on Huddersfield’s next attack as Danny Brough’s high kick failed to be collected by nervy full-back Amos Roberts and fit-again Luke Robinson was in the right place to score with his first touch of the season.
Brough goaled, and the Giants were finally in business.
That Robinson score was only awarded after a good look by video referee Ian Smith, but he was to deny Huddersfield seven minutes before the break when a Brough ‘score’ was ruled out for a knock-on by Luke O’Donnell as he challenged Roberts for another Brough ‘bomb’.
But the tide began to turn just before the break when Charnley nudged his side back ahead with a penalty before he grabbed a superbly-created try at the start of the second period.
With the Giants on the back foot, O’Loughlin kicked exquisitely to the corner for the winger to collect and dive over in the corner.
Both sides then had efforts ruled out by the busy Mr Smith, with Simpson thwarted through a knock-on and Roberts left frustrated through an obstruction.
As the contest progressed, the Giants become even more dominant as the Wigan defence was forced to work overtime.
Brough, Grix and Robinson were all denied by incredible last-ditch tackles during a period where the Warriors had to drop-out several times.
But on a rare Wigan attack with six minutes remaining, the Giants were penalised and Charnley made them pay.
And the same man then rubbed salt into the wounds by racing clear and sending a pass that looked well forward for Ryan Hoffman to race over for a second converted try.