HUDDERSFIELD Giants are top of Super League XVII.
A 32-14 triumph for head coach Nathan Brown’s men at Wakefield and Wigan’s shock 37-36 defeat at Widnes has taken the Giants to the summit after six incredibly encouraging rounds.
The visitors may have been nowhere near their best against the plucky Wildcats.
But they still had far too much in reserve to get the job done, which again emphasises how much rich promise there is at the Galpharm right now.
With in-form former Wakefield winger Luke George and Luke Robinson both missing, the Giants were forced to make changes to the side that secured that thrilling 17-16 home triumph over St Helens the week before.
Robinson’s absence meant an immediate return to first-team duty for another ex-Wakefield man in Tommy Lee at starting hooker, following a two-match ban, while a third winter arrival from the Wildcats, Aaron Murphy, came in for George on the wing after making his debut at full-back at London Broncos a fortnight ago.
And in what was a real ‘old boys’ convention, fellow Giants Scott Grix and Danny Brough were also in action against their former club, with Andy Raleigh, Danny Kirmond, Kyle Wood and Oliver Wilkes having swapped their allegiance from claret and gold to red, white and blue.
By half-time it was those from the visiting camp who were feeling far happier with life as the Giants opened up a deserved 18-4 lead.
Within six minutes they had struck the opening blow, thanks to a mesmerising run across the face of the defence by Brough to create the chance to put Leroy Cudjoe through and feed Jermaine McGillvary to cross.
The wing-centre partnership then repeated the act midway through the half, with Cudjoe showing great strength to take the tackle and release McGillvary to finish strongly, and for Brough to add the extras after failing to do so from the same spot for try No1.
But despite struggling to contain their opponents, Wakefield refused to wave the white flag and gave themselves a glimmer of hope on the half-hour mark – just moments after Murphy had been denied a wonderful length-of-the-field try for a forward pass after the excellent Jason Chan’s initial work close to his own line.
With the Wildcats relieved to see the potential score chalked off, they immediately worked their way up to the other end of the field.
For four successive sets, thanks to three penalties and a drop-out, superb Giants goalline defence kept their hosts at bay until the pressure eventually told on set five as Ben Cockayne crashed over in the corner, too far out for the tryscorer to add the conversion.
But for the remainder of the half, it belonged to Huddersfield, with the Giants striking for a third time in the 36th minute.
Quality work from the impressive Grix helped open up the Wakefield defence for David Faiumu to shoot through and feed Larne Patrick to finish off under the posts.
Brough added the extras and then banged over a penalty on the stroke of half time to give his side a handsome advantage.
Wakefield were handed another lifeline at the start of the second half when the Giants were again penalised for a high shot and the ball was worked out for Cockayne to dive over for his second, with Tim Smith this time off target with the conversion attempt.
And history repeated itself 10 minutes later as the Giants were penalised again and from the subsequent set, the ball was whipped out for Cockayne to complete his hat trick.
Isaac John added the conversion and the visitors’ lead was down to four.
At that stage it was anyone’s game.
But the Giants wasted relatively little time finding a response, grabbing their fourth try seven minutes later.
Shaun Lunt was held up on the tryline on the fifth tackle, and Kevin Brown moved into the acting half-back position to send out a perfect long pass to put Joe Wardle through a huge gap for Brough to again add the extras.
Brown then turned tryscorer by dummying 15m out to glide through and celebrated the birth of his son Harry this week in perfect style.
At 28-14, the points were in the bag, and the scoreline looked even better three minutes later as the Giants added their sixth try.
A loose ball just inside the Wakefield half was scooped up by Brough who made valuable ground before feeding Brown to put Wardle over for his second.
Brough again failed to convert to make it four successes on the day.
But in the final analysis, the misses never mattered.
It was another potential tricky test completed as the Giants go marching on.