THE Giants chances of repeating last season’s success of a top six finish receded markedly with this home defeat.
While there was no disgrace in their performance against the Dragons, easily the surprise package of Super League XIII with their gallop to the play-offs, there was reason for some disappointment on the Giants behalf.
On one front they will know that there were a number of unforced errors that cost them in the end and secondly they missed the chance to make their point to a bumper crowd as 12,127 – the second highest home attendance of the campaign – packed into the Galpharm as the Giants threw open the entrance gates.
Not that the new fans that gave the Giants a try will have gone away unimpressed by their local heroes as the battled hard to beat their high- flying rivals, and the crowd in turn created a noisy atmosphere as they got behind the side.
And the fans were given the perfect start as the Giants raced in for the opening try after just six minutes.
A spell of pressure finally saw the Catalans defence unlocked by Kevin Brown’s quick-thinking and winger Martin Aspinwall was on hand to win the race to the bouncing ball and touch down.
Skipper Chris Thorman missed the kick and was to be awry again as the Giants struggled to ever break free of their rivals.
They were denied a second score just four minutes later when Dragons’ Justin Murphy failed to take a Luke Robinson kick due to pressure from Stephen Wild and the ball broke for Paul Whatuira, but the video referee Ben Thaler ruled that the centre had not grounded the ball and gave no try.
It took Catalans a little time to come to terms with the wet conditions, but as they settled they began to increase their threat to the Giants line.
On 20 minutes they made the break through as their creative playmaker Thomas Bosc set up a move which saw Adam Mogg slip the final pass to put Murphy in at the corner.
Bosc too failed with the kick and the pattern was set for a real nip and tuck contest.
It was advantage Giants on 24 minutes as Clint Greenshields attempt to put Murphy in at the corner resulted in David Hodgson intercepting and he won an 80-metre foot race to touch down.
Thorman missed the kick but did add two points with a penalty before the Dragons evened it all up again when a Robinson error allowed the visitors possession that ended in hooker Aaron Gorrell scooting in for a try, this time Bosc made no mistake with the kick.
Three minutes from the interval David Ferriol’s questionable tackle on Stephen Wild earned the Giants a penalty in range and Thorman added the points to take the home side into the second period in the lead.
The nature of the game was not to change, though the Giants may have felt firmer action could have been taken by referee Ashley Klein as the Dragons were twice guilty of high shots in the tackle early in the second half.
It was hardly a surprise when a further infringement in tackle brought the Giants a penalty on 53 minutes and Thorman duly increased their lead.
Two minutes later and it was all square once more as Catalans caught the Giants cold. Robinson kicked long, but the ball was returned at great pace by Greenshields who must have eaten 60 metres and then sent Mogg round the outside for a try. Bosc’s kick was unsuccessful as it clattered into a post.
On the hour the Giants edge in front once more with a piece of impressive opportunism.
A Giants attack appeared to have broken down as a wayward pass saw the ball run loose, but scrum half Robinson pounced on the ball and the alertness of Danny Kirmond to appear on his shoulder produced a deserved try for the substitute.
Thorman stretched the lead, but the cat and mouse affair was once more influenced by the pace of Mogg as the centre battled through the defensive cover and the video referee ruled his outstretched arm had managed to find the line.
Bosc’s goal levelled the scores and it was to be the half back who had the final say.
After Robinson snatched a drop goal attempt wide it was a penalty conceded by Stuart Jones, who had put in a great display, that proved decisive.
Bosc landed the penalty and the Catalans then forced the Giants back.
The home side managed to carve just one good chance in the final seven minutes when a Thorman kick to the corner just eluded Hodgson and Whatuira.
However, the Catalans hung on to their lead – a talent they seem to have mastered throughout the campaign – and notched their third success of the season against the Giants.