The heartache for Huddersfield Giants just gets heavier and heavier as they went down 38-34 at Castleford in a see-saw contest.
Once again, it was a case of so near and yet so very, very far for head coach Paul Anderson’s bottom-of-the-table team.
It’s now eight from nine defeats in Super League XXI as another top-flight fixture in 2016 slipped from their grasp.
It happened against Wigan, it’s happened against Leeds, it’s happened against Salford, and now it’s happened at Castleford – yet another single-score loss.
And while the League points have been lost, so has the confidence, with a lack of Giants’ self-belief central to their inability to take a lead and hold onto it.
This was another prime example as they led 30-22 with 13 minutes remaining, but never looked convincing enough to take the contest by the scruff of the neck and secure a precious second success of the campaign.
Huddersfield’s final preparations weren’t helped by a groin injury to scrum half Kyle Wood and a virus ruling out Kruise Leeming and Josh Johnson.
As a result, it was no real surprise the visitors looked a bit disjointed at the start.
But they did at least survive the first scare when Tom Holmes raced away to ‘score’ but was brought back for an earlier knock-on after three minutes.
Fortunately, the Giants did then settle to their task and took the lead after 10 minutes.
Danny Brough’s grubber kick bounced off a Castleford defender back to him and he immediately fed Michael Lawrence to free Leroy Cudjoe to stroll over for a converted score.
However, with the Giants lacking in confidence, it didn’t come as a great shock that it was the Tigers who were the next to pounce and by the half-hour mark had nudged 12-6 ahead.
The hosts’ first try came after 17 minutes when Mike McMeeken collected Luke Gale chip to touch down and they took the lead for the first time when the impressive scorer turned provider to feed Greg Minikin for their second try, converted by Gale.
Huddersfield looked like they’d levelled the scores at the break when Brough and half-back partner Jake Connor combined for Cudjoe to put Jermaine McGillvary over in the corner, before Brough landed an excellent touchline goal.
But on the stroke of half-time the Tigers struck for a third time as Jy Hitchcox crossed superbly in the corner to make it 16-12.
The boot of Brough gave the Giants new hope at the start of the second half when his pin-point pass to the corner was collected by McGillvary to score his second of the contest, converted magnificently by the visitors’ playmaker to nudge his side back ahead.
Such was the nature of this game that Castleford soon found a response as McMeeken charged over for his second just three minutes later for Gale to add the extras.
It was now the Tigers 22-18 in the lead, although the Giants were almost immediately back in the lead as Cudjoe collected a Connor pass and slipped through for his side’s fourth converted try.
That became five on the hour as Sam Rapira charged onto the ball 15m out and showed great strength to touch the ball down for his first Giants try.
Almost inevitably in this see-saw affair, Castleford fought back to make it 30-28 with 13 minutes remaining with Hitchcox crossing for his second, again goaled by Gale.
Good Tigers defence denied Aaron Murphy almost straight from the restart, but there was no denying Jake Webster at the other end as he crashed over in the 70th minute to take the Tigers back into the lead at 34-30.
And that advantage was extended just four minutes later as Hitchcox raced on for his hat trick to take Castleford eight points ahead.
McGillvary completed his treble with four minutes remaining, but it was too little, too late.<p/> <p/>