HUDDERSFIELD Giants are finally off the foot of the Super League XXI table.
And the fact it was achieved at the expense of arch West Yorkshire rivals Leeds Rhinos made their third defeat of the campaign all the sweeter.
But it wasn’t until Eorl Crabtree’s 79th-minute converted try that the outcome of this basement battle was finally settled.
All credit to injury-decimated reigning champions Leeds for making a fist of it.
Yet in the final analysis, there’s no denying the Giants were worthy winners of a contest they dominated for large chunks but just couldn’t shake off their dogged opponents - until those crucial final and dramatic last few moments.
Given the way the Giants started the contest, it was almost unbelievable they trailed 8-4 at the break.
Their dominance in the opening quarter couldn’t have been greater.
Within eight minutes they had taken the lead when Ukuma Ta’ai charged down the blindside to crash through a pile of defenders with relative ease for a try which Danny Brough was unable to convert from wide out.
The pressure continued, with Leeds struggling to get out of their own half.
But with Josh Johnson and Jermaine McGillvary both denied tries by video referee Richard Silverwood and Eorl Crabtree, Michael Lawrence and Kyle Wood held up on the tryline by dogged Rhinos rearguard action, the visitors began to grow in confidence.
And in the 25th minute they took the lead against the run of play as Liam Sutcliffe grubber-kicked through for Jordan Lilley to collect, score and add the conversion.
A Lilley penalty five minutes later extended the Leeds lead as the tide began to turn.
Sutcluffe should have extended that lead two minutes later but took the wrong tion after breaking clear.
But with Lawrence then being guilty of taking the wrong option after a storming run and Ryan Hinchcliffe held up over the tryline, the final outcome wax proving almost impossible to predict.
It took the Giants just three minutes to get back on level terms when the ball was kept alive on the sixth tackle for on-loan Warrington winger Gene Ormsby to cross in the corner.
And Brough’s brilliant touchline conversion nudged his side ahead.
But, just like in the first half, Leeds struck against the run of play to regain the lead five minutes later, with Josh Walters crashing over after a break from Lilley following a Giants error deep inside visiting territory. Lilley’s goal made it 14-10.
Busy Kyle Wood was held up over the tryline midway through the half as the Giants desperately looked to find a way back in front.
Fortunately, Huddersfield weren’t to be denied on their next attack when the ball was swept to the right for McGillvary to collect from centre partner Leroy Cudjoe and charge inside to finish off for Brough to convert and take his side in front foe the third time.
Stubborn Leeds, however, refused to go away, with Rob Burrow plunging over from acting half on the back of repeat sets to take Leeds back ahead with a third converted try.
It was now 20-16 to the Rhinos. Yet given the see-saw nature of this encounter it was no great surprise that it was the hosts who were the next to strike as former Leeds Academy winger Aaron Murphy stormed to the line and fed Jake Connor to power over and Brough to added the extras with seven minutes remaining.
Walters just failed to ground the ball for his second within five plays of the restart.
And it looked as if Ta’ai had scored his second with three minutes left, but video refreshed Silverwood denied the Giants for a third time when he ruled Brough had put a foot in touch as he released the ball.
Silverwood was then called into action again a minute later, but this ime ruled in favour of the home team and big Eorl Crabtree after touching down from close range. Brough’s third goal made it 28-20’ and the game was over.