THE Giants faded as Salford caught fire in the second half of an entertaining clash at The Willows last night.
There was little to choose between the two sides, which given their respective positions in the table may be of some concern to the Giants, but they faced a City Reds side determined to give their fans something to shout about.
Despite being an omission from the Giants initial squad of 19, former Salford half back Luke Robinson took his place at scrum half in the Giants starting line-up.
His berth at hooker was filled by Jamie Simpson on the Aussie’s’ return to fitness after a shoulder injury that required surgery – his first appearance since the end of April.
Missing as expected were Danny Brough, due to a side muscle problem, and former Kangaroos Test forward Luke O’Donnell after his serious knee injury sustained last week against St Helens.
Salford included former Giants favourite Stephen Wild at loose forward as coach Matt Parish went looking for his first success since taking the City Reds reins last month.
Playing at their historic Willows home for most probably the penultimate time before their move to a new home in Barton next season Salford certainly seemed fired up from the start.
Courtesy of a fumbled ball by the Giants the home side were able to exert pressure and from close range scrum half Dan Holdsworth collected a quick pass from acting half back Matty Smith and forced his way over the line after just two minutes and added the goal to his own touchdown.
The Giants took their time to find their feet but almost responded on 13 minutes as they sought to prise open the Salford defence on the left, but skipper Kevin Brown’s final pass that looked to send former City Reds winger David Hodgson on his way to the line was adjudged to be forward by referee James Child.
The Giants approach was fluid to say the least with Simpson, nominally at hooker, turning up in the centres, while Michael Lawrence supported the forwards and – when the Giants were in possession – full back Scott Grix turned up at acting half back.
However, on 24 minutes it was Grix who found room away from the ruck and created the space to fire through a testing angled kick to the corner and hometown product Jermaine McGillvary celebrated his new five-year deal with the Giants with a smartly taken try. Grix added the goal to level the scores.
Within three minutes the home side had restored their lead as winger Danny Williams went one-on-one with Hodgson and burst through his rival’s challenge to touch down. Holdsworth was on target with the kick.
But with similar ease the Giants were back on terms on 31 minutes as a neat move allowed Lee Gilmour to cut a swathe through the home cover and score with Grix again levelling matters.
The Giants were beginning to look a little more organised as the interval approached and they took the lead for the first time four minutes from the break when another smart move close in allowed David Fa’alogo to burst over and Grix knocked over his third goal.
However, the second half brought an almost immediate setback for the Giants as McGillvary went down in a tackle under a fairly routine challenge but, after treatment, had to be led from the field.
However, on 46 minutes the Giants went a whisker away from putting some daylight between the two teams when Brown’s inviting kick just eluded the grasp of Grix as he challenged for the ball in the City Reds in-goal area.
The home side were quick to respond and they cut the Giants lead to two points as Williams powered through for his second try after Huddersfield had been left stretched on the left flank, but the goal was missed.
Salford turned up the heat at this point and twice blew good positions by spilling the ball, while the Giants in turn wasted an opportunity of their own with a forward pass.
But on 69 minutes the home side’s hero of the night, winger Williams, produced yet another great finish to complete his first hat trick in the red shirt since his arrival from rugby union outfit Newcastle Falcons last month.
Half back Holdsworth added his third goal and with nine minutes to play the Giants were staring at defeat.
That situation never looked like changing and on the final whistle Holdsworth slammed over a penalty just to make sure.
The Giants Under 18 side slipped to a 46-4 to Salford at YMCA’s Laund Hill ground.
The Under 20 squad are at home at YMCA today against Salford (2.00).
Wigan beat Bradford 60-12.