HUDDERSFIELD Giants were left to rue several missed chances, the concession of penalties at vital times and some close refereeing calls as they fell to defeat at Hull FC.
For much of the contest they matched their hosts stride for stride and produced some quality attacking play.
But it was the events in the opening 18 minutes of the second half that ultimately sealed the Giants' fate.
A tough interference call on grounded defender Eorl Crabtree within a minute of the re-start set the scene for Huddersfield's downfall.
From the resulting penalty, Richard Horne stepped through for his side's third try to signal a chain of uncomfortable events.
Chris Nero almost immediately hit back with a try to regain the lead for Huddersfield at 20-18.
But in the next 13 minutes, the Giants conceded cheap penalty after cheap penalty and by the 58th minute they had paid the ultimate price and were 34-20 adrift.
The game had slipped through the visitors' grasp in the most frustrating fashion.
Crabtree's try with five minutes remaining was mere consolation, leaving the Giants to reflect on what might have been.
Although Huddersfield fell 12-0 behind to two tries from former Academy winger Richie Barnett and two Paul Cooke conversions inside the opening 16 minutes, the Giants had already shown they could give the home side a real run for their money.
In the opening quarter, Ryan Clayton, Nero and Jim Gannon all spilled possession in promising positions inside Hull's 20, while James Evans came desperately close to following up Chris Thorman's grubber kick to touch down.
And it came as no great surprise when the deficit was cut to six points in the 23rd minute when Thorman set up the opportunity for Paul Smith to cut through for a try, converted by Thorman.
Three minutes later the lead was down to four when Motu Tony was penalised for holding down Jon Grayshon after a superb burst by the substitute.
Thorman goaled and Tony was sin-binned to put the Giants in the driving seat.
But it wasn't until the 36th minute that they hit the front for the first time with the try of the game.
A dazzling break by Thorman from deep inside his own half was continued by Evans, who in turn found Lee Greenwood to crown an excellent debut by outpacing the cover to score.
Thorman again converted and at 14-12 Huddersfield had a lead that was fully deserved.
Horne's try within two minutes of the re-start quickly undid the good work.
But when Nero followed up Paul March's perfect kick-ahead on the sixth tackle to race over for a third converted try three minutes later, hope had been restored.
Unfortunately, however, it was then that everything started to go wrong.
With Huddersfield guilty of conceding a glut of `soft' penalties, the initiative was handed straight back to Hull - and they took full advantage.
While the Giants were forced on the back foot, Kirk Yeaman struck twice and Richard Whiting also crossed, and with the reliable Cooke landing all three goals, the home side had established the match-winning lead.
The 64th-minute dismissal of Cooke for an alleged head butt on Brad Drew offered some late hope of a successful Giants fightback.
But when Crabtree's tryscoring pass to Stuart Donlan in the 72nd minute was cruelly ruled forward, it was clear it wasn't going to be their day.
Crabtree did get on the end of a great Thorman pass to crash over with five minutes remaining.
But the visitors' frustration was summed up in the last minute when an alleged spear tackle by Nero and Evans on Ewan Dowes was placed on report.
* Huddersfield's Junior Academy side produced another top-class performance to win 32-16 at Hull.Full details tomorrow.