Battling Huddersfield Giants can count themselves desperately unlucky not to have won at World Club Champions – being held to a 16-16 draw.
After last week’s highly-unimpressive 30-0 defeat at Leigh, Huddersfield may well have settled for a 16-16 draw at Super League leaders Wigan at the start of play.
But by the final hooter, there was bitter disappointment that both points weren’t taken back to West Yorkshire.
Coach Rick Stone’s men more than matched their hosts, and showed tremendous character from start to finish.
The Giants were full value for their 14-10 interval advantage.
After their shut-out at Leigh nine days earlier, the visitors waited a mere three minutes to break their duck at the DW Stadium.
With Wigan pressing, Jermaine McGillvary intercepted on his own 10 metre line and raced 85 metres before being stopped just short by Anthony Gelling.
But, quick as a flash, Lee Gaskell was into the acting half-back position to plunge over for the try, converted from the touchline by Danny Brough.
The Scotland skipper should have made it 8-0 nine minutes later, but saw a straightforward penalty rebound off a post.
And the Warriors made the most of their let-off moments later when Morgan Escare finished off neatly and landed his own conversion to level the scores.
That failed to halt Huddersfield’s promising start, however, and midway through the half they were back ahead.
Again, the impressive Gaskell was at the heart of the score, timing his short pass to perfection for the on-rushing Darnell McIntosh to collect and cross for his first Super League try. Brough goaled and the lead was back up to six.
Tom Davies hit back to squeeze over in the corner for an unconverted score 10 minutes later before Brough nudged his side four points before the break with a successful penalty.
But that lead was lost eight minutes after the restart when the ball was fed from the scrum out to the right for Gelling to show all his pace and strength to race 35 metre and cross out wide, too far out for Escare to add the extras.
A good period of Giants pressure was rewarded with a 57th-minute Brough penalty to nudge his side ahead for a third time.
Yet such was the continuing see-saw nature of the contest that it was no real surprise that Wigan responded strongly, with magnificent Giants’ last-ditch defence required to keep out their hosts around the hour mark.
Unfortunately, it was referee Chris Kendal, who then enabled Wigan to keep up the pressure by sin-binning Leeming for a high shot in the 66th minute after placing the visitors on a team warning 10 minutes earlier.
Both calls seemed a tad harsh.
There could, however, be no disputing the penalty awarded for holding down with five minutes remaining which enabled Escare to level the scores.
That set up a grandstand finale, with Brough just closed down to deny a drop-goal attempt in the 77th minute and instead feed Sam Rapira who dropped the ball deep inside home territory.
Sam Powell then saw his attempted field goal drift well wide as the nervous tension heightened.
With time fast running out, Escare spilled the ball looking to break from deep to give the Giants a scrum in a promising position, but Brough was unable to find the target as the contest came to a thrilling end.
The Giants will feel that they should perhaps have come away with more!