THE GIANTS gambled too often as they failed to knock St Helens off their perch at the Stobart Stadium last night.
Third-place was up for grabs but when it came to the crucial moments, Huddersfield let the best chances slip from their grasp.
It was far from a poor performance as the Giants certainly tested their hosts, but when they needed to find some composure it eluded them.
The Giants were boosted by the return to the starting line-up of skipper Kevin Brown, Luke O’Donnell and Michael Lawrence, while David Fa’alogo was on the bench.
For Saints it was a big night as Paul Wellens received a rapturous welcome as he made his 400th club appearance.
It proved to be a tight first half and in the end a frustrating one for the Giants as some good chances went begging.
The opening was certainly tough and after three minutes Luke Robinson put in a hit on Saints prop James Graham which left both players on the floor after a clash of heads.
Thankfully both recovered and Saints began to exert some pressure and, twice, kicks from scrum half Lee Gaskell had to be forced dead by the Giants’ defence. It was fully 11 minutes before Huddersfield had the ball in their hands in Saints’ half, but it led to a good attack and Leroy Cudjoe just failed to reach a Brown kick to the corner.
The visitors continued to exert pressure but uncharacteristic errors saw first Lee Gilmour, with an ill-advised kick, and then O’Donnell, with a pointless offload, waste position.
On 21 minutes another opportunity went begging when Danny Brough’s angled kick was palmed down by Brown but Gilmour missed the ball with the line open and Sia Soliola retrieved possession for Saints.
Five minutes later a piece of individual opportunism by Leon Pryce gave Saints the lead as he cut inside eluding Danny Kirmond and raced 30 yards to score – the video referee taking his time to award a perfectly good try, and Jamie Foster adding the goal.
In the last minute of the half the Giants blew another golden chance.
Saints winger Tom Armstrong knocked on from a Brough kick on his own line, from the scrum first Brough and then Robinson failed to puncture the Saints line.
The second period got off to a truly devastating start for the Giants as Wellens marked his landmark game with a try to which Foster added the goal.
Things went from bad to worse on 52 minutes when O’Donnell went down in a tackle and was obviously in great distress with an injury to his left knee.
The stretcher was immediately called for and he was carried from the field.
The game was up on 57 minutes as Jon Wilkin set prop Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook free from 40m out and he showed a great turn of pace to break through and then step past Scott Grix to score, with Foster taking his goal tally to 100 for the season.
The Giants gave themselves some hope with 20 minutes to go with a stunning try. A curling Brough kick looked to be running dead but skipper Brown managed to kick the ball back for Fa’alogo to touch down and Grix added the goal.
Ten minutes from time the Giants cause was further hampered when Brough made a break, but then pulled up as he, too, was led from the field with an injury.
Saints made sure of their victory two minutes later as half back Gaskell fired over a drop goal that left the Giants needing three scores.
That proved to be a mountain they were never going to climb.
The Giants Under 18s produced an impressive performance to beat Featherstone Rovers 40-6 at Laund Hill.
There were two tries each from Jake Connor and Jordan Higi.
And other try scorers were Kyle Mayall, Jake Shoel, Pete Aspinall and Aaron Briggs, while Aspinall kicked three goals and Tom Hall added a conversion to leave the side full of confidence heading into the final two games.