A SEASON of disappointment was summed up in this flat performance as the Giants failed to rise to the occasion in their final home game of the Super League XIII campaign.
Huddersfield’s home record against Saints in recent seasons has been pretty impressive.
And with coach Daniel Anderson resting several key players ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup final date with Hull at Wembley, this seemed the ideal time for the Giants to strike.
Unfortunately, with Huddersfield failing to fire on all cylinders and referee Ben Thaler handing all the crucial 50:50 calls to the visitors, there was only ever going to be one outcome.
It’s always easy to point the finger at the match official when your team fails to deliver.
But there’s no doubt a number of Thaler’s first-half decisions influenced the entire proceedings and had a massive bearing on the final outcome.
Twice in the opening period, St Helens appeared to have knocked-on, but play was waved on and a try was scored.
Video replays may go on to prove the decisions were correct, yet it’s hard to see how.
It’s obviously too late for anything to be done about the calls now.
But no-one could argue they made a huge difference, allowing St Helens to move 18-6 ahead in what was otherwise a very closely-contested opening 40 minutes.
On top of that, the calls also had the effect of knocking the Giants completely out of their stride.
With the decisions going against them, their confidence seemed to slip, and Saints took full advantage.
Admittedly, the home side did fight back to 18-16 within 12 minutes of the restart.
But in the end that 12-point interval deficit proved too much to overcome, with the visitors finishing the contest with a flourish.
That was in stark contrast to the opening exchanges, which the Giants completely dominated.
Within three minutes they had hit the front when a mixed-up last play resulted in Eorl Crabtree having to kick ahead.
Luckily, it worked to perfection, as the outstanding Paul Whatuira collected the loose ball, raced away and fed Stuart Jones to score against his former club, leaving Chris Thorman to add the conversion.
Crabtree was also influential as the Giants almost doubled their lead three minutes later.
His offload on halfway sent Luke Robinson racing clear.
The scrum half then released Whatuira, who made ground before Ryan Hudson gathered and was only denied a try in his last Huddersfield home appearance by a last-ditch cover tackle.
By the 10th minute, however, the balance of power began to switch.
Keiron Cunningham plunged over on the back of two soft Giants penalties and seven minutes later St Helens took a lead they were never to lose.
James Graham appeared to knock-on on the sixth tackle, forcing the Giants’ defence to switch off for a split-second.
Yet in that time Thaler signalled play-on and Sean Long fed Willie Talau to finish off.
Then in an almost identical play, another spilled Saints’ ball went unpunished and Kyle Eastmond took full advantage, with Long adding his third successful conversion.
The Giants finished the half strongly, however, with David Hodgson held up over the tryline, before they started the second period powerfully.
Within two minutes of the restart, Robinson’ high kick to the corner was palmed back by Shane Elford under pressure from Ade Gardner for Whatuira to score.
And 10 minutes later Elford kicked ahead a loose St Helens’ pass on the visitors’ 20 for Whatuira to again gather and score.
With Thorman adding the second goal it was now 18-16.
But that initial effort appeared to take its toll as Saints found another gear.
Four minutes later Chris Flannery finished off a good move and in the 65th minute a loose ball on halfway was collected by young winger Dean McGilvray who outpaced the defence to score.
Eastmond’s two conversions and two further penalties made it 34-16.
Danny Kirmond showed superb stepping skills to round several players on a magical run to the line for a 74th-minute consolation effort, converted by Thorman, before Eastmond added his second try and fifth goal to complete the scoring in the final minute.