A NIGHTMARE journey led to a nightmare start as Huddersfield Giants suffered a 40-16 defeat by Warrington Wolves in their Junior Academy First Division semi-final eliminator at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
A motorway pile-up meant the Giants arrived at the stadium 15 minutes late.
And the pre-match disruption took its toll as the visitors found themselves trailing 28-4 by the break in Cheshire.
Coach Chris Plume's side did rally after the break, matching Warrington stride for stride.
But with so much damage having been done in the opening 40 minutes, it was obvious the Giants were playing simply for pride after the break.
Huddersfield were able to hold out for the first 10 minutes.
But once Anthony Beckett raced over for the opening try, converted by Craig Ashall, the writing was on the wall.
With crucial tackles being missed at monotonous regularity, Warrington soon built up a healthy lead.
Chris Riley extended the home side's advantage in the 19th minute after capitalising on a Giants error, and the signs were looking very ominous for the visitors.
Chris Clarke did give the Yorkshiremen some hope, carrying on from where he left off in the win at Wakefield by breaking clear to set up Symon Sutherland for a try in the corner in the 24th minute.
But by half-time the Wolves were out of sight.
In the 33rd minute Ben Harrison added a third try for his side, with the reliable Ashall again converting.
And three minutes later Danny Aboushakra crossed for the fourth.
To make matters worse, Huddersfield then squandered possession on the stroke of half-time and Andy Mousedale took full advantage to finish off with another touchdown.
Ashall's conversion made it 28-4 and the game was realistically over as a contest.
It got even worse within three minutes of the restart as Ashall grabbed a try and conversion to give the Wolves a 30-point lead.
At that point the Giants finally came to life.
Within a minute, prop Jason Southwell crossed for a try following a length-of-the-field move and Thomas Hemingway banged over the extras.
Then in the 58th minute, Andy Tillotson grabbed a well-deserved score, which Hemingway again goaled to reduce the deficit to 18 points.
But any hopes of a remarkable comeback were destroyed in the closing moments when Craig Cornelia completed the scoring with a seventh Warrington try.