HUDDERSFIELD Giants duly booked their place in the draw for the fifth round of the Carnegie Challenge Cup.
But they were made to battle all the way to seal their expected victory against their National League I hosts.
Everything looked as if it would be plain sailing as the Giants raced into a 16-0 lead within 15 minutes.
Huddersfield looked sharper, faster, fitter and stronger – as one would expect from a Super League side.
However, once Halifax began to find their feet, they were able to force Huddersfield onto the back foot and, in the end, the visitors were grateful for that early lead.
And it was the feet of home side half-backs Sean Penkywicz and Graham Holroyd, in particular, that caused the Giants all the problems.
When Fax attacked with ball in hand, Huddersfield had little trouble keeping them at bay.
But when it came to defending attacking kicks, it was a totally different matter.
A Penkywicz grubber-kick gave Halifax their opening try through Frank Watene.
Then a Holroyd grubber resulted in the second through Mick Govin as the home side reduced the deficit to 22-12 by the break.
And in the second half a Holroyd ‘bomb’ paved the way for a Dave Wrench score before his second decisive grubber was collected by Damian Gibson to grab Halifax’s fourth and final try.
Holroyd also landed all four conversions, with his final attempt helping the National League side claw their way back to 32-24.
Another Fax score at that stage would have been interesting.
But with the Giants able to finish the contest as strongly as they had started it, coach Jon Sharp’s side were eventually able to reflect on a solid job well done.
It was hardly a vintage display, but with a win on the board after two deeply disappointing home Super League defeats, it was just what was required.
And it will be interesting to see if Sharp sticks with the numerous new positional changes introduced for this tie for the League games ahead.
Apart from finding life a little difficult with some of Holroyd’s outstanding high kicks – as good as any on show in Super League – Leroy Cudjoe went well at full-back.
His selection enabled captain Chris Thorman to move back to stand-off, where he was often at the heart of several of his side’s best attacking plays.
And regular No6 Kevin Brown looked very effective when he came on as a substitute.
Michael Lawrence stood up well in his first-choice position of centre, while Thomas Hemingway proved he is now a fully-fledged hooker with a very strong performance in the inter-change role with Ryan Hudson.
Once again Hudson was clearly one of the Giants’ top performers, and he was the first to get on the trysheet, collecting a pass from Lawrence to dummy his way over after two minutes for Thorman to land the first of his five conversions.
But it was a grubber from Carnegie man-of-the-match Luke Robinson that made it happen as the Giants’ scrum half showed no sympathy towards his hometown club.
After setting up try No1, he showed great feet to dart over for the second after six minutes.
He then spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin for holding down after tracking back to deny James Haley before coming back to continue to terrorise his hosts.
By the end of the contest, he had added a second try, set up several others and also produced some big defensive plays to deservedly claim the game’s top individual accolade.
But this was hardly a one-man Giants show, with a smart Paul Whatuira grubber kick giving Rod Jensen a try and Hemingway plunging over from close range just before the break to give the visitors’ their 10-point interval advantage.
In the second half, Jamahl Lolesi, Brown and Andy Raleigh also grabbed scores before Robinson sealed it with the final try with five minutes remaining.
In the end, 42-24 looks fairly comfortable.
But it really didn’t tell the full story.