EXPERIENCE eventually overcame youth as the Giants suffered a 30-18 pre-season defeat at Batley Bulldogs in the club’s first game of 2011.
While the hosts and Northern Rail Cup holders fielded a full-strength side, Huddersfield once again chose to send their second team into Mount Pleasant action.
As a result, the visitors were always going to find the going tough. After all, it was a classic case of men v boys.
But the young Giants still give an excellent account of themselves against a Batley side who had easily beaten the full-strength Dewsbury Rams 30-6 in the traditional Heavy Woollen festive derby fixture the week before.
What the youngsters lacked in physical stature against a seasoned Bulldogs squad, they more than made up for in terms of skill, fitness and enthusiasm.
After a shaky start when they conceded two tries within the opening 12 minutes down the notorious Mount Pleasant squad, assistant coach Paul Anderson’s side began to find their feet.
By half-time they could count themselves a little unlucky to be 16-6 behind, and when they battled back to 20-12 midway through the second period, they looked capable of pulling off what would have been a massive shock.
In the end, the Bulldogs’ greater know-how pulled them through.
But it was clear from the smiles on all the Giants faces at the end of the contest – including head coach Nathan Brown, who was watching on from the comfort of the stands – that there were far more positives than negatives to emerge from what was a very tough work-out.
The half-back combination of Gregg McNally and Kyle Wood had its moments against a well-drilled Batley defence, while the club’s new arrivals didn’t do themselves any harm at all.
Former Bradford Bulls centre Joe Wardle looked very comfortable competing at this level, which was probably to be expected after making a couple of Super League appearances for his old club and then looking solid for Scotland in last autumn’s European Cup competition.
Jon Molloy was another to make the most of a long stint in the second row, proving beyond doubt the ex-Wigan youngster has bags of potential.
That could also be said of his former Warriors teammate Matt Sarsfield, who came off the bench to good effect and underlined why he had been so instrumental in the England Academy’s recent Test series win over Australia Schoolboys.
Unfortunately, the other new Giants face, Matty Dawson, suffered a severe bang to the nose early in the game and was unable to stamp any sort of real authority on the proceedings.
But in the 12 minutes he was on the field he did show some neat touches.
Having said that, all those who wore the claret and gold on the day gave a good account of themselves in what turned out to be a very competitive encounter.
Not that it looked as if that would be the case early on, of course.
Within seven minutes, Danny Maun had broken the deadlock with a try in the corner.
And five minutes later, former Giants winger Alex Brown showed great strength to crash over for Gareth Moore to add the conversion and put Batley firmly in control.
At that stage the signs looked ominous.
By the 16th minute, however, the fears were starting to subside as Wood kicked ahead for Greg Johnson to win the race to the ball and hack ahead for Josh Griffin to collect and score.
McNally converted and the Giants were right back in it.
Unfortunately, Ian Preece’s 27th-minute score and then Brown’s second seven minutes after the restart, put Huddersfield well and truly on the back foot at 20-6.
But when Wood dummied close to the line and plunged over for McNally to land goal No2, it appeared the tide may be about to turn.
Batley, however, had other ideas, and within minutes they scored the try of the game when Brown, Paul Mennell and Maun combined to send Alex Bretherton racing away to make it 26-12.
Good work from McNally gave Jacob Fairbank the space to plunge over minutes later, but the home side had the final say when Wayne Reittie stretched out to score and seal the Giants’ fate.
Batley Bulldogs: Preece; Reittie, Williams, Maun, Brown; Moore, Mennell; Smith, Lythe, Martin, Manning, Toohey, Walton. Subs: Tootill, Lindsay, Handforth, Potter, Bretherton, Hesketh, Foulstone.
Tries: Maun (7), Brown (22 & 46), Preece (27), Bretherton (62), Reittie (75).
Goals: Moore 3.
Huddersfield Giants: E Hodgson; Dawson, Wardle, J Griffin, Johnson; McNally, Wood; Walker, Stead, Orwell, Molloy, Cording, Fairbank. Subs: Peltier, Sarsfield, Senior, Davis, Harrop, Lamb, Sandland, Briggs, Ansell, Fox, Whiteley.
Tries: Griffin (16), Wood (60), Fairbank (65).
Goals: McNally 3.
Referee: Ronnie Laughton.