HUDDERSFIELD Giants' young guns were taught the harshest of lessons as full-strength Halifax turn on the power to secure a thumping 58-6 Infirmary Cup triumph at The Shay.
After last week’s highly encouraging performance at Batley Bulldogs, hopes were high the Giants rising stars would be able to shine for a second successive week.
But they were brought back down to earth with a bump as their hosts showed why they are being tipped as one of the teams to beat in the competition below Super League this year.
Yet even though the Giants’ line-up was similar to the one which faced Co-operative Championship clubBatley the week before, there were some notable additions.
Top of the bill was Aaron Murphy, who made his debut at full-back following his move from rival Super League club Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at the end of last season, and he showed several touches when in action during the opening period to suggest he could be a useful acquisition.
There were also runs for young Super League squad men Josh Johnson, Matty Sarsfield and Jamie Cording, who all produced solid if unspectacular performances.
However, there was a doubt earlier in the day whether the game would actually go ahead, with concerns The Shay pitch would be frozen.
Heavy frost had caused the postponement of the Halifax Town football match the day before.
As soon as that clash fell victim to the weather, covers were placed on the playing surface and that saved the day, with former Giants and Halifax star Jamie Bloem giving the game the go-ahead in his capacity as an RFL referee after an 11am pitch inspection.
But judging by the events of the opening half-hour, the young Giants may well have wished Bloem’s decision had gone the other way.
With new signing Paul Handforth – the man-of-the-match for Batley in last year’s Challenge Cup clash against the Giants – and former Huddersfield hooker Sean Penkywicz pulling the strings, Halifax were 100% dominant and scored at virtually a point a minute to lead 28-0 after 30 minutes.
Rob Worrincy twice crossed for tries, while another ex-Giant, Paul White, Ryan Fieldhouse, Josh Barlow and Steve Tyrer also finished off excellent Halifax approach work to leave the visitors totally on the back foot.
Yet one thing Huddersfield couldn’t be accused of was a lack of character, and their perseverance finally paid off when they finally made a breakthrough seven minutes before the break with a well-crafted effort.
Loose-forward Cording was at the heart of the score, dummying close to the line, pushing through and feeding fellow back-rower to finish off for Ben Whitehead to add the extras.
Unfortunately, they were unable to build on the boost as Halifax had the final say of the half, with Matt James bursting over to make it 34-6 at the break.
With Handforth substituted at half-time and the Giants’ defence pushing up a lot quicker, the opening second-half exchanges were far more even.
But the Giants were undone in the 50th minute when Penkywicz was fortunate to be awarded a 40-20 and Barlow took full advantage by charging over from the resulting scrum and five minutes later Worrincy completed his hat trick.
Huddersfield continued to show some spirit and the lively Joel Farrell provided a great moment of individual skill when he dummied to race clear just inside his own half, but was then unable to find the right try-scoring pass.
And Halifax soon made the most of the let-off by going straight downfield for Ben Heaton to touch down from another Penkywicz kick to the corner.
To make matters worse, Danny Kean became the second Giants player to be helped off the field after suffering a leg injury – Steve Kiss was the first after just five minutes – and within minutes Worrincy was racing away from deep inside his own half for try No4.
With five minutes remaining, Fieldhouse doubled his tally and at 58-6 a difficult afternoon was over.
Halifax: Fieldhouse; White, Tyrer, Heaton, Worrincy; Bowman, Handforth; Gannon, Penkywicz, Hesketh, D Manning, Morrison, Robinson. Subs: Chandler, James, Goodman, Barlow, Thackeray, B Manning, Davies, Jackson, Holroyd, Taylor.
Tries: Worrincy 4, White, Fieldhouse 2, Barlow 2, Tyrer, James, Heaton.
Goals: Tyrer 3 from 8, Handforth 1 from 2, Bowman 1 from 2.
Huddersfield: Murphy; Gorman, Farnsworth, Farrell, Walker; Whitehead, Owen; Johnson, Kiss, Sarsfield, Walker, Fox, Cording. Subs: Blagborough, Cullimore, O'Grady, Carvell, Kean, Thackeray, Chester, Bradbury.
Goals: Whitehead 1 from 1.
Referee: Clint Sharrad.