IT just doesn’t seem to matter who’s the coach, what set of players take to the field and how well they’ve been playing.
It’s simply the case that whenever the Giants find themselves on the biggest of Super League stages, they suffer the big freeze.
And this weekend’s disappointing defeat, and performance, against Leeds Rhinos is just the latest in a depressingly long line of false dawns.
With the Giants entering this contest on the back of a magnificent six-game winning run, this seemed to be the ideal time to face a stuttering Leeds Rhinos side who had lost their last three.
But right from the kick-off, the alarm bells started ringing as the usually rock-solid and inspirational Brett Hodgson knocked-on the kick-off and Leeds took the lead through Brent Webb from the first set of six.
Immediately, the majority of Giants fans in the 11,593 Galpharm crowd were thinking: “Here we go again!”
And, unfortunately, as the game progressed, that opinion failed to change as mistakes continued to be made at crucial moments.
The Giants did work hard to get themselves deep into Leeds’ territory on numerous occasions throughout the opening period.
But every time they did, they either spilled possession or took the wrong option, and against a side like Leeds that’s fatal.
The more the mistakes came, the more the confidence of the champions grew, and the harder Huddersfield’s task became.
Despite an outstanding contribution off the bench from Eorl Crabtree, by half-time Leeds had built up a 22-0 lead and the game was almost over as a contest.
Two Kevin Sinfield penalties – from somewhat contentious calls – nudged the visitors 10-0 ahead by the 20-minute mark.
But it was a blitz of two converted tries in the last three minutes of the half that made all the difference in the world.
First. a Sinfield 40-20 kick created the position for Keith Senior to feed Ryan Hall to score in the corner.
Then as the final hooter was about to sound, Sinfield and Danny McGuire combined superbly close to the Giants’ line for McGuire to dive over.
At 10-0 at the break, the Giants were in with a fighting chance, but at 22-0 their task had become almost impossible.
And that task became even harder within 40 seconds of the restart when Danny Buderus cut loose on halfway and fed Webb to race away for his second.Related content
It was obviously the worst possible start Huddersfield could have hoped for.
But, on this occasion, they managed to find the perfect response, courtesy of a piece of Luke Robinson magic.
Collecting the ball from dummy half inside his own 40, the scrum half spotted a slight gap, squeezed through and sped off at lightning pace before drawing full-back Webb and feeding the supporting Michael Lawrence to score a thoroughly-deserved try.
Brett Hodgson added the extras and at 28-6 after 44 minutes there was the slenderest of hope.
And that hope would have been increased had Stephen Wild been able to find his support after a great break three minutes later or if Kevin Brown’s tryscoring pass to David Hodgson not been ruled forward in the 50th minute.
Lawrence was also unlucky not to double his tally when he just failed to touch down after chasing a Brown grubber kick with 15 minutes remaining.
However, with the Giants continuing to make errors and conceding ‘soft’ penalties, Leeds were always going to make them pay.
And they did just that in the 70th minute when Matt Diskin was fortunate to reclaim the ball after his pass close to the Huddersfield line had been knocked down by Wild and he had the simple task of planting the ball down.
That wasn’t awarded until video referee Thierry Alibert had taken a close look at it.
However, the home side were not so lucky with a video ruling three minutes later when Brown’s ‘tryscoring’ pass to Paul Whatuira as adjudged to have gone forward as the half-back off-loaded under pressure.
It was clearly a shame for the Giants that the decision went against them, because the final margin of Leeds’ win was cruel in the extreme.
Yes, the Rhinos deserved their win and showed why they are the champions, but they were definitely not 28 points better!